UK’s first hybrid battery-diesel train made its first journey

Britain’s first hybrid battery-diesel train made its first trip on July 21. One the 25th anniversary of operator Chiltern Railways the HybridFLEX was launched, as well as a celebration event at London Marylebone Station. Chiltern is currently an all-diesel operator with an average fleet age of 25 years. A key priority for the operator is to help deliver decarbonisaiton for the UK by investing in innovation.

The train travelled to Bicester Village on its maiden journey. Long-serving Chiltern colleague were joined at Marylebone Station by regional stakeholders and rail industry executives. Chiltern Railways is the only surviving, continuous train operator brand since privatisation. “We need to modernise Chiltern again and this exciting use of new technology in an older train is a potentially very significant opportunity to help us decarbonise and improve our customer experience”, said Richard Allan, Managing Director at Chiltern Railways.

Chiltern said it is ‘delighted to be trialling this new technology to demonstrate that it can contribute to better air quality, decarbonisation and the aim of removing traditional diesel trains from its network’. The HybridFLEX aims to enter full passenger service from September this year.

HybridFLEX train

HybridFLEX is the product of collaboration between rolling stock owner and asset manager Porterbrook and engineering giant Rolls-Royce. The train has a Rolls-Royce Hybrid PowerPack, which should reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 25 per cent. Also, Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions are to be reduced by over 70 per cent and particulate emissions by over 90 percent, compared to the engines it replaces.

“HybridFLEX trains will make rail travel even greener and the air in our stations cleaner”, said Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said. “Chiltern Railways have connected people for a quarter of a century and now are helping to prepare for the future as we build back greener. This is a great example of how innovation and enterprise can help us reach our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Warren East, Chief Executive Officer at Rolls-Royce: “With 1.7 billion passenger rail journeys taking place every year in the UK, the 25 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions offered by HybridFLEX represents a meaningful step forward in the country’s journey towards its 2050 net zero target. We’re delighted to be part of this ground-breaking team with our hybrid solution alongside Chiltern Railways and Porterbrook.”

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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