Hybrid Traction

Hybrid Traction

Hybrid power combining power potential

Hybrid traction combines multiple power sources and so can potentially cover many powertrain options to achieve the desired benefits

The addition of alternative power sources whilst adding complexity can provide many co-benefits along with decarbonisation of the railway system. Examples below show a range of projects Ricardo rail teams have worked on:

  • HybridFLEX replaces one of the traditional diesel engines in an existing diesel multiple unit from Bombardier with a battery pack and generator system to use in and around station areas to deliver both CO2 savings along with improved air quality and reduced noise levels in sensitive areas.
  • The TRAXX MS3 is a locomotive from Alstom which has its electrical power supply supplemented by a 230 kW "last-mile" powerpack enabling it to operate in non-electrified areas track such as that found commonly in ports and harbours greatly improving its versatility.  
  • The WINK passenger vehicle from Stadler combines a traditional electrical vehicle supplemented by alternative fuel bio-diesel engines and battery packs to allow a go-anywhere ability particularly focussed on lines which are only partially electrified. 

You can find more details on each below and the role which Ricardo played to bring it into service. 

Diesel + Battery Hybrid Retrofit (Hybridflex)

Diesel + Battery Hybrid Retrofit (Hybridflex)

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Electric + Battery Hybrid (TRAXX)

Electric + Battery Hybrid (TRAXX)

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Electric + HVO + Battery Hybrid (WINK)

Electric + HVO + Battery Hybrid (WINK)

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Hybrid themes

Two themes run throughout most hybrid traction projects whether they are new build or retrofit options:

  • Removing diesel traction / decarbonisation
  • Accessing track without current overhead electrification

Both requirements often involve the addition of a battery back to provide electric traction power including hydrogen fuel cell projects such as HydroFLEX. The sizing and power rating of the battery solution can vary significantly depending on its intended application. A short hop through non-electrified or discontinuous electrification may only need a small capacity compared to tens of kilometres of non-electrified routes requiring more substantial energy storage.

With high capital costs, long lifespans and changing customer demands vehicle owners, operators and lessors are increasingly driven to consider the retrofit of hybrid powertrains to existing fleet vehicles. The use of hybrid systems can deliver a new lease of life to fossil fuelled stock, or to provide go-anywhere versatility to rollingstock previously captive to electrified areas, both key demands from a decarbonisation focussed railway industry.  

Our teams are ready to become partners in your hybrid powertrain projects so get in touch and we can discuss your needs further.