HybridFLEX - Britain’s first hybrid battery-diesel train is launched

HybridFLEX - Britain’s first hybrid battery-diesel train is launched
22 July 2021

Our congratulations to both our client, Porterbrook, and to UK rail operator, Chiltern Railways, for the launch of Britain's first hybrid-powered passenger train.

The HybridFLEX programme saw the fitment of a Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drive to a multiple diesel unit to create a vehicle that can switch seamlessly between battery and diesel power. This means that when passing through residential areas or approaching station stops, for example, the vehicle can switch to battery power in order to reduce noise levels and deliver zero emissions.

Furthermore, modelling of the Class 168 train on Chiltern Railway’s London to Birmingham route also demonstrated potential reductions in fuel consumption of up to 20% and faster journey times due to an enhanced acceleration capability.

The hybrid drives should also incur lower maintenance costs over the vehicle’s remaining lifetime due to reduced wear and tear of components.

Engineering and authorisation support

Ricardo was appointed by Porterbrook, a UK-based rolling stock owner, 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”.