Conclusive tests for the first French hybrid Régiolis trainset in Toulouse
The last testing phase in the project to turn a diesel-electric Régiolis train into a battery-electric diesel hybrid in France, initiated in 2018 by SNCF and Alstom, was recently concluded. Earlier this week, the train was presented to stakeholders in Toulouse, where the tests were carried out. The start of experimental commercial service is scheduled for the end of 2023.
In April, tests were carried out on the Toulouse-Mazamet and Toulouse-Rodez lines to assess the performance of the first hybrid electric-thermal-battery regional train. The results showed that the train performed as expected, with energy savings of up to 20 percent depending on the route.
SNCF and Alstom each contributed 3.8 million euros to the project, the Occitanie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Grand Est regions each contributed 3 million euros, and the Centre Val de Loire region contributed 250,000 euros. This brings the total budget to 16.85 million euros. In addition, the Occitanie region has provided a train set from its liO fleet for the project.
On 14 June, this train was presented at the Technicentre Occitanie by Jean-Luc Gibelin, Vice-President of the Occitanie region with responsibility for Mobility for All and transport infrastructure, Philippe Bru, Regional Director of SNCF Voyageurs Occitanie, and Kaïs Albouchi, Director of the Régiolis Hybrid and Hydrogen Projects at Alstom. It is due to go into experimental commercial service in a few months’ time, once the necessary authorisations have been obtained from the Établissement Public de Sécurité Ferroviaire (EPSF).
Initial feedback has been positive, with a braking energy recovery rate of over 90 percent, enabling energy savings of up to 20 percent depending on the route. The train is also capable of operating in zero-emission mode, using only the batteries over short distances, which is advantageous for low-carbon journeys in built-up areas. On non-electric lines, the hybrid regional train can cover up to 1,000 kilometres, just like the regular dual-mode diesel-electric version.
France’s first battery-equipped regional train
The first French regional train to use batteries for its propulsion has been developed by modifying the Régiolis train set. At the start of 2021, half of the combustion engines were replaced by lithium-ion batteries. This conversion was carried out at the CAF site in Reichshoffen, following a preliminary validation phase for the new energy storage systems at the Alstom site in Tarbes at the end of 2020. One carriage of the train set has also been temporarily equipped with a laboratory and sensors to measure the train’s energy flows.
With its two energy storage systems and laboratory car, the train set started it’s testing phase in the second half of 2021. A static and dynamic test phase at up to 60 kilometres per hour was carried out at Reichshoffen to check that the train was operating correctly and to test its hybrid traction mode. The tests then continued on the Vélim ring in the Czech Republic, with validation and certification tests at up to 160 kilometres per hour. This enabled all the train’s new traction methods to be tested at operating speed, and the route simulation models to be validated.
The final tests on the national rail network took place in April. SNCF Voyageurs must now submit the admission file to the Établissement public de sécurité ferroviaire (EPSF) in order to obtain the necessary authorisations for commercial operation. During this period, SNCF Voyageurs will also be preparing to put the train set into service in various regions (traffic plan, staff training, etc.).
The start of experimental commercial service is scheduled for the end of 2023 in the Occitanie region, notably on the Mazamet-Toulouse and Rodez-Toulouse lines. The modified train set will then run throughout 2024 in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Grand Est and Centre-Val de Loire regions. Deployment of the hybridisation solution on the other dual-mode Régiolis trainsets remains to be specified, and could begin as soon as the regions, in their capacity as organising authorities for regional passenger transport, decide to do so.