Diesel + Battery Hybrid Retrofit (Hybridflex)

Diesel + Battery Hybrid Retrofit (Hybridflex)

HybridFLEX is the first hybrid-powered passenger train in service in the UK.

Working with our client, Porterbrook, the UK rail operator, Chiltern Railways, launched the hybrid vehicles into service in July 2021. 

Adding the hybrid drive system to an existing vehicle delivers:

  • ​CO2 reduction of up to 25%
  • Nitrous oxide reduction of up to 70%
  • Particulates exhaust emissions reduced by up to 90%
  • Reduced journey times due to enhanced acceleration

The HybridFLEX programme saw the retrofit of a hybrid drive into an existing class 168 diesel multiple unit rollingstock to create a vehicle that can switch seamlessly between battery and diesel power.
The ability to swap to battery power and power-down diesel engines means that air quality and noise around stations and other sensitive residential areas is greatly improved. The switch also allows some sections of the journey to deliver zero emissions.

Engineering and authorisation support

Porterbrook, a UK-based rolling stock owner, enlisted Ricardo Rail in 2019 to provide engineering support for the integration of the mechanical, electrical and critical controls systems of the hybrid powerpack.

Colleagues from our Automotive and Industrial division were brought across for their experience of state-of-the-art hybrid technologies in the commercial vehicle world, whilst our rolling stock experts oversaw the integration aspects.

We also provided a range of certification and approvals activities ahead of the test run programme in spring 2021.

“We are proud to have supported Porterbrook throughout the development of this innovative and important project for the industry,” said Ian Carmichael, from Ricardo’s Rail Division.

“The UK has a large fleet of diesel units with serviceable life of ten years or more. The HybridFLEX programme proves they have a viable future as hybrids, delivering reduced NOx, carbon and noise emissions on routes that may be many years from electrification”.

If you would like to discuss options for revitalising your stock with retrofit powertrain options or discuss other hybrid options then please contact us via the form.