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Abellio, Alstom, NASA and Rolls-Royce to implement new hybrid drive solution on Coradia Lint diesel trains

Rolls-Royce and Alpha Trains sign letter of intent for retrofit hybridization of diesel railcars with MTU drives

Rolls-Royce and Alpha Trains intend to jointly retrofit Alpha Train’s Talent, Desiro and Lint fleets with MTU hybrid drives. The two companies signed a letter of intent to this effect at Innotrans, the world’s leading trade fair for transport technology, in Berlin.


The aim is to retrofit the entire Alpha Trains railcar fleet to hybrid drive systems following the successful completion of the design concept and the retrofitting of an initial Class 643 (Talent) diesel multiple unit.

Alpha Trains owns more than 140 rail vehicles, which are currently powered by conventional MTU PowerPacks—these include Class 643 DMUs, in addition to Class 648 (Coradia Lint) and Class 642 (Desiro) DMUs.

The integration of the Hybrid PowerPacks into the existing Alpha Trains fleets will take place in close consultation between the two companies: with more than 20 years’ experience and a total fleet of more than 435 passenger trains, Alpha Trains will provide substantial experience and expertise with these vehicles.

Alpha Trains and Rolls-Royce have agreed that initially a variety of hybrid drive solutions will be simulated and examined with regard to their suitability for use on specific routes.

With the aid of in-house simulation tools, MTU will be able to determine what would be the optimum drive solution for Alpha Trains in each case for a variety of routes, customers and vehicles.

One possible solution is retrofitting with an MTU Hybrid PowerPack and an additional MTU drive system consisting of an electric motor and batteries. As soon as the optimum solution has been identified for Alpha Trains, the next step will be to retrofit a single vehicle, before moving on to retrofit the entire Class 643 fleet.

MTU’s Hybrid PowerPack is an environmentally-friendly drive system that combines the benefits of both battery and diesel-powered trains. It is made up of an MTU diesel engine combined with an electric machine, which can be used as both a traction motor and a generator, and the MTU EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking. As a result, local emission free, battery-powered operation, among other things, is possible.

In station areas, the drive‘s noise level is reduced by around 75% (20 dB(A)), with fuel consumption and CO2 emissions down by as much as 25%, depending on the vehicle, route and timetable.

The operating costs of vehicles equipped with a hybrid drive system are significantly lower, because the pneumatic brakes, for example, are not used as frequently, since energy is recovered during braking. As a result of the increased acceleration and additional power of the electric drive system, it is possible to make up for delays and to schedule rail services with shorter intervals between trains or additional stops.



In my reading about electric locomotives, I kept coming across praises like "there was nothing they couldn't pull."  Higher power-to-weight is a major advantage here, though I do wonder how it would affect rail and wheel wear.


They could add drives to cars, lighten the load on locomotives.

Thomas Lankester

when you say 'add drive to cars', do you mean to individual carriages?
This has been standard for DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units) from the late '60s at least and there is no dedicated drive unit / locomotive engine on such trains.

I'd really love them to get this on my route. The old DMUs on my line belch it out in stations. And for the sections with a third rail, they could use a pickup shoe to avoid the diesel altogether.

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