Aimed at halving fuel consumption and carbon emissions without massive investment in new rail infrastructure, the ‘Blues Train’ was revealed this week at InnoTrans in Berlin, the world’s largest rail transport fair.

The train will be the first tri-mode to enter passenger service in Europe when it starts operating in Italy later this year.

Based on Hitachi’s Masaccio platform, the company said the Blues Train can operate “seamlessly” on electrified and non-electrified lines. On electrified routes, it uses pantographs to draw power from the overhead lines. When it moves to non-electrified lines, usually smaller regional routes, a combination of battery and diesel power takes over.

When it is near a station, the batteries power the train completely, preventing emissions including harmful NOx and reducing noise pollution. The battery can recharge while the train is in operation, both in diesel and electric mode.

The train’s top speed is 160km/h (99mph), but Hitachi said the batteries boost acceleration and performance compared to existing diesel trains, helping reduce journey times.

The Blues Train is equipped with European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) digital signalling, which helps reduce energy consumption and emissions footprint by regulating speed, acceleration and braking. ERTMS can also boost safety by enabling the automatic activation of train safety functions, including emergency braking. ERTMS is recognised as the European rail standard, making it highly interoperable and suitable for operation across Europe.

Andrew Barr, group CEO of Hitachi Rail, said: “The Blues Train, with its pioneering battery hybrid technology, is a hugely important way for railways across Europe to reduce their carbon emissions, while improving passengers’ journeys.

“We’re thrilled to unveil this technology here in Berlin and to begin passenger service in Italy later this year. We know that decarbonising transport is a vital mission around Europe, so we’re delighted to provide our customer with effective solutions that lessen the impact on the planet.”

Hitachi’s framework agreement with Trenitalia includes the supply of up to 135 trains, worth €1.2bn. The four-carriage trains, which can accommodate up to 300 people seated, have been manufactured at Hitachi Rail’s factories in Pistoia and Naples.

Extracted from IMechE website, read more here

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