Porterbrook launch first UK hybrid rail project

2019 saw the inception of an exciting initiative to introduce trains run on hybrid energy systems. It’s one of several innovative projects undertaken by Porterbrook to respond to the governments challenge of removing diesel only trains from the UK rail network by 2040.

Rolls-Royce, partnering Porterbrook in the UK’s first agreement to deliver MTU hybrid drive systems to the UK rail network, pioneers clean, safe and competitive solutions to our planet’s essential power needs. The ground-breaking work anticipates a new chapter of environmentally friendly, quieter and more efficient rail travel in the UK, beginning as early as 2020.

The agreement allows for the installation of hybrid systems on two test trains, for a trial period of six months during regular operations. Following trials, Porterbrook aims to offer hybrid conversion to a range of customers operating existing Turbostar fleets, reducing both operating costs, and the need for the commissioning of new rolling stock.

At the end of the 2020 pilot programme, Porterbrook plans to offer customers HybridFLEX trains, ushering in a new era of quieter, more fuel efficient and zero-emission train operations. The system deploys a mix of diesel engine running on Stage V EU emissions regulations, an electric motor and an MTU EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking. The result is quieter and cleaner operation in urban areas, particularly on arrival and departure at stations.

Noise emissions in stations are cut by around 75 percent (20 dB(A)). Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by up to 25 percent. NOx emissions can also be reduced by up to 70 percent and particulate emissions by around 90 percent.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “Porterbrook is committed to reducing the emissions and carbon footprint of our existing diesel powered fleets. We hope our investment in this trial of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks will enable our customers to deliver significant benefits to communities close to rail routes, including reduced emissions, improved air quality and lower noise levels.”