Alternative Energy hybridtrain_main

Published on January 20th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás

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Hybrid Trains are the Future: EU to Fit KERS Systems to High-speed Rail

Thanks to the success of the Prius and others, hybrids have become a big deal in the automotive universe – so much so that boutique carmakers like Porsche and Ferrari are looking to hybrid technology to stay relevant. Cars aren’t the only people-movers moving to hybrid power, of course. Trains are adopting the technology in a bid to reduce harmful emissions and stabilize fuel costs – especially in the European Union.

Electric trains are already big business in the EU, with almost half the trains working there being full electrics. However, a new regenerative braking system developed by MTU could soon be fitted to diesel trains, making the current ICE-driven European trains into hybrid trains.

The first train fitted with MTU’s system was a German Siemens Desiro Classic VT 642 locomotive, which was originally powered by a pair of diesel engines. The hybrid train system consists of two 315 kilowatt-rated hybrid power packs and batteries, and the locomotive saw a 25% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions with the regenerative braking system in place. That is HUGE when considering ho many thousands of tons of people and cargo are moved by rail in the EU every day … and it’s fun to think that both Ferrari’s next supercar AND Ferrari’s first train might both be hybrid-electric vehicles!

Source: Inhabitat.



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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.



  • Gary

    “However, a new regenerative braking system developed by MTU could soon be fitted to diesel trains, making the current ICE-driven European trains into hybrid trains.”

    This article is a little misleading stating that hybrid trains are a new thing. Diesel hybrid locomotives have been around for a very long time. Most modern locomotives are a two stroke diesel motor powering a generator/battery system that puts power to the wheels. This regenerative braking system is great and it would be a great addition to the existing hybrid technology but hybrid trains aren’t that new as the article suggests.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/joborras/ Jo Borras

      That’s a fair point, but the diesel-electrics of today use the diesels as generators which power the electric motors, and ONLY the diesels as generators. This system allows the electric motors to be powered by the braking of the trains, which – at the moment – is wasted energy.

  • M@

    The most significant difference is that the new trains allow the storage of electricity – the primary mover in all modern trains has always been electricity. Even on these new trains 100% of the energy STILL comes from diesel fuel – but the braking energy that was formerly wasted is now recaptured. The braking energy still originates from diesel fuel, and it’s the addition of the battery packs (which should be measured in kilowatt-hours as watts/kilowatts in an instantaneous measure of power but doesn’t tell us anything about the storage capacity of the battery system) and the tech to store the deceleration energy that is the novel. Until you add the ability to plug it in or on board solar cells (or similar) all of the energy still comes from diesel.

  • robert g

    Oh great. More lithium batteries. Let’s see how long it takes before we have trains bursting into flames like the chevy volt and the going 787

    • Christopher DeMorro

      @ robert g

      Funny. Every laptop I’ve used for the past 6 years has had a lithium-ion battery, and not a single one has burst into flames. Same with most of my cordless tools, cell phones, etc. etc.

      Don’t let the facts stand in the way of your right-wing propaganda though.

      • Dewayne Curry

        That was a completely obnoxious pile of crap you just spewed. Yeah his comment was dumb but where did any indication of his political leanings come into play? As far as I am concerned you just identified yourself as biased left-wing propagandist. How about we just talk about technology and leave the rest of the crap to Fox and CNN.

        • Christopher DeMorro

          @ Dewayne Curry

          Because the notion that Chevy Volts are going to “burst into flames” as robert said is only promoted by one side of the political spectrum.

          I myself am a small-government kind of guy, but I cannot abide by the BS that passes for news on right-wing media outlets these days. To be honest, I almost deleted his comment outright, because there is a chance he isn’t even a real commentator, but a paid shill whose only purpose is to rile up the readership.

          Don’t believe these people exist? Read more here.

          • Dewayne Curry

            I absolutely believe they exist on both sides. I just keep hoping I can find a site that uses logic, discusses the pros and cons of the technology and leaves the Ad Hominem attacks at home. For example, the other Jo Borras rant about anti-ethanol propaganda. His demeanor is repulsive.

          • Christopher DeMorro

            @ Dewayne Curry

            I try to offer an open forum here at Gas2.org. While I may not agree with Jo’s demeanor in his post, nor with robert’s flaming volts commentary, I am not trying to run a censored dictatorship here. I want people to speak their minds.

            It can be EXTREMELY frustrating at times though, because I never know whether I am dealing with a bot, someone who is simply misinformed, and a purposeful agitator whose only goal is to get the discussion off the rails, as is currently happening here.

            All that said, your opinion is dully noted, and I appreciate the calm demeanor you brought to this conversation. Sometimes even I need to be reminded of what I am trying to accomplish here. So thank you.

    • http://gravatar.com/zivbnd zivbnd

      Robert, no Volt has ever been in an accident and caught on fire. The NHTSA didn’t follow the rules on de-powering a wrecked Volt and two weeks later a purposely damaged Volt left outdoors in the rain caught fire. Plus some bozo that wired his own electrical system to his home-made Suzuki BEV started a house fire that burned down his garage, his Suzuki and unfortunately, his Volt, but the fire marshal report said the Volt was the victim not the cause.
      I don’t know if you really believe the “Volts burn” meme, but if you do, it makes you look ill-informed. If it is a joke, it is deceptive and lame.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bruce.miller.900 Bruce Miller

    Depends . . . Who engineers them? Asians? Europeans? Americans?

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