Hitachi Rail Reveals Battery-Hybrid Passenger Train

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Hitachi Rail presented its Blues tri-mode train for Trenitalia at InnoTrans 2022. (Photograph Courtesy of Hitachi Rail)

Hitachi Rail presented its Blues tri-mode train for Trenitalia at InnoTrans 2022. (Photograph Courtesy of Hitachi Rail)

Hitachi Rail and Trenitalia on Sept. 21 at InnoTrans 2022 unveiled the hybrid tri-mode “Blues Train,” which can switch between battery, electric or diesel power and will enter passenger service in Italy later this year.

The total Blues framework agreement with Italian state passenger operator Trenitalia includes the supply of up to 135 trains worth $1.8 billion (€1.2 billion).

Hitachi said the train, which is derived from its Masaccio platform, has the ability “to operate seamlessly on electrified and non-electrified lines. On electrified routes, it uses pantographs to draw power from the overhead lines. However, 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, eliminating emissions including harmful NOx and reducing noise pollution. The battery is able to recharge while the train is in operation, both in diesel and electric mode.” The manufacturer noted that the train, which can operate across Europe, is slated to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption by 50%.

Manufactured at Hitachi Rail’s factories in Pistoia and Naples, Italy, the new four-car trains can reach a maximum speed of approximately 100 mph (160 km/h) and accommodate up to 300 seated riders. Hitachi noted that the extra power offered by the on-board batteries provides an improved acceleration performance compared with existing diesel trains. Additionally, the Blues Train is equipped with European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) digital signaling, the European rail standard.

According to Hitachi, the fleet features greater capacity for luggage and bikes, air conditioning, more USB and power sockets for connectivity, and an area dedicated to children. It has been designed to include platform-level door access to increase accessibility as well as 24-inch passenger information screens and passenger counting technology.

Hitachi Rail Group CEO Andrew Barr

“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,” Hitachi Rail Group CEO Andrew Barr said. “We’re thrilled to unveil this technology here in Berlin and to begin passenger service in Italy later this year. We know that decarbonizing 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.”

Six years ago, Hitachi Rail introduced the battery-powered DENCHA passenger train, and it said it is also progressing a battery hybrid intercity train trial in the U.K.

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