The Nikkei reports that West Japan Railway Co. (JR West), plans to have a practical version of its hybrid train ready for operation as early as 2015 on its routes in the Sanin and Hokuriku regions.
The company is developing a hybrid train that combines a diesel engine with lithium ion storage batteries. These batteries are used to power the lights and climate control systems and other equipment on the trains, helping to improve fuel consumption by around 13%. The batteries are recharged by generators that tap the energy released when the train decelerates.
JR West has been testing prototypes of this hybrid train since 2009 to verify the usefulness of the technologies. The next step is to settle on design features such as where to locate the batteries on the train cars.