STORY Rail

First passenger journey in Great Britain with mtu Hybrid PowerPacks

Posted on July 21, 2021 by Rolf Behrens, Images by Porterbrook, Robert Hack

A train with mtu hybrid drive carried passengers for the first time today as part of a special journey.
Important milestone for the mtu Hybrid-PowerPack: In Great Britain, a train with mtu hybrid drive carried passengers for the first time today as part of a special journey. The journey of the train – called HybridFLEX – was part of celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of UK rail operator Chiltern Railways, which will use the train on its routes. It is a converted Turbostar DMU, which was previously equipped with a conventional mtu drive system.

Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce, was among the special guests present at the event in London Marylebone: From there, the train started its maiden passenger journey to Bicester Village. East emphasised the importance of the hybrid train project: “This collaboration demonstrates the pivotal role technology is already playing in the transition towards a net zero future. With 1.7bn passenger rail journeys taking place every year in the UK, the 25% reduction in CO2 emissions offered by HybridFLEX represents a meaningful step forward in the country’s journey towards its 2050 net zero target. We’re delighted to be part of this groundbreaking team with our hybrid solution alongside Chiltern Railways and Porterbrook.”

The Hybrid PowerPack combines a diesel engine, which will comply with the EU Stage V emissions directive, with an electric machine, which can be used either as an electric motor or generator, and an mtu EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking.

The mtu Hybrid PowerPack is an environmentally friendly drive system which combines the advantages of diesel and battery-powered rail traction. It is a cost-effective, climate-friendly alternative to conventional drives, e. g. for routes that cannot be electrified at all or only partially. The version for Porterbrook, the UK’s largest owner of passenger rolling stock who provides the vehicle to Chiltern Railways, incorporates an mtu diesel engine which will fulfil EU Stage V emissions regulations, plus an electric machine, which can be used either as an electric motor or generator, and an mtu EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking. This enables very low-noise, emissions-free battery-only electric operation in urban areas and around stations.

The Hybrid PowerPack combines the advantages of battery and diesel-powered trains and thus comes close to electric vehicles powered by overhead lines in terms of environmental friendliness without requiring expensive infrastructure measures.

The HybridFLEX train is scheduled to begin regular passenger service in September. Porterbrook is exploring the option of converting part of its Turbostar fleet to hybrid drives. Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail, the state railway of the Republic of Ireland, has also ordered nine mtu Hybrid PowerPacks, which are expected to be installed next year.

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