Senior managers from Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways yesterday visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire to see the testing of Britain's first hybrid-powered train.
The HybridFLEX battery-diesel train is currently undertaking a programme of tests between Duffield and Wirksworth, prior to returning to Chiltern Railways in the summer.
Fitted with a Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drive the HybridFLEX will cut noise emissions in stations and deliver zero emissions when operating under battery power.
Richard Allan, MD of Chiltern Railways, said: “Chiltern has a fantastic track record of innovating and investing in new routes, stations, and trains over a 20 year franchise that is now in its final few months. Looking ahead we have some major challenges and opportunities, not least in supporting the decarbonisation of the railway from our current position as an all-diesel operator with an average fleet age of 25 years. We need investment to modernise and this exciting use of new technology in an older train is a potentially very significant opportunity."
Stephen McGurk, Porterbrook's Chief Portfolio Officer, said: "We are very excited about this technology which has the potential to transform air quality and sound levels at major stations and in urban areas. I would like to thank our Chiltern Railways customer for working with us on the introduction of HybridFLEX to Britain's railway."
Modelling of duty cycles on Chiltern Railway’s London to Birmingham route suggest potential reductions of circa 20% in fuel consumption and circa 70% in NOx emissions. In addition to improved air quality and reduced noise, HybridFLEX units are also expected to deliver journey time and route capacity improvements, as the combination of diesel and electric power will offer enhanced acceleration capabilities.
The Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drives are also expected to produce maintenance savings through reduced ‘wear and tear’ on consumables, such as brake pads and discs.