Traction - innovation and development

Traction - innovation and development

At the forefront of traction technology research and development

Ever since our foundation, over a century ago, research and innovation has been central to our work.

We invest extensively in engine technology and development and are one of the world’s leading authorities on the reduction of carbon dioxide missions from transportation and related industries.

For the rail sector in particular, we remain as active as ever in helping to shape more efficient and sustainable traction technologies, and are currently engaged in a range of industrial partnerships and government-backed collaborations.

We are a recognised leader in the research and development of state-of-the-art, high fuel economy diesel power systems, with a particular specialism for developing new methods to improve existing.

Fuel efficiency

In 2012 we were commissioned by the UK’s Department for Transport to produce influential research into viable approaches to improving rail diesel powertrain efficiency.

Our teams produced in-depth analysis of existing diesel engine technologies and then benchmarked over thirty different future options, identifying seven suitable technology packages as priorities for further development.


Based on Ricardo technology that derives from the world of Formula 1, the TorqStor™ energy storage flywheel system presents a low-cost option for fuel savings through the recovery and re-use of energy lost by DMUs during braking.

In an initiative co-funded by Innovate UK and the Rail Safety & Standards Board, the project was result of a partnership we entered into with Artemis Intelligent Power and Bombardier Transportation to develop a solution for DMUs to emulate the regenerative braking systems found on modern electric units.

Initial indications are that the retrofit of flywheels to DMUs could lead to fuel savings of up to 10%, as well as extend the life of the vehicle’s braking components. On this basis, the technology could deliver a return on investment within five years.


  • Duty cycle and performance analysis
  • Engine selection for performance and emission compliance
  • Hybrid solution choice
  • Air management optimisation
  • Maintenance access
  • Structural solution
  • Concept and package design