Hitachi rolls out fleet of emissions-cutting tribrid Blues trains in Italy
Hitachi Rail has announced the completion of a phase one rollout of its Masaccio trains on routes "across the length and breadth of Italy." Dubbed the Blues by rail operator Trenitalia, the passenger fleet is the first in Europe to run on battery, electric and diesel power.
Despite widespread electrification of railways throughout Europe, Hitachi reports that more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles) of track in Italy is not electrified, and it's a similar story throughout continental Europe where more than half of all trains in service run on diesel only.
Upgrading the whole network would prove a costly and disruptive exercise, and there are areas where electrification could prove challenging if not impossible. This is where a design featuring batteries in the power mix might help operators to meet their low-emissions targets.
The Masaccio platform made its debut at the InnoTrans 2022 trade show in Berlin, and the first train able to run on batteries alone, electricity from overhead cables, or the diesel engine went into service in Sicily from December. In addition to reducing carbon emissions by as much as 50% compared to diesel-only trains, the tribrid models also significantly cut fuel costs. And as an extra cherry of the sustainable-transport pie, they're manufactured using 93% recyclable materials.
The Masaccio Single Deck can be configured with two, four or full underframe Li-ion battery packs (with cooling system in the roof). Trains can accelerate at 1.10 m/sec to reach top speeds of 160 km/h (186 mph), and are available with three or four air-conditioned carriages to seat up to 300 passengers.
The carriages have been designed to offer more capacity for luggage and bicycles than current options, as well as plenty of USB and power sockets. Entry and exit should be a breeze too, particularly for wheelchair users and stressed parents pushing buggies, thanks to platform-level door access.
When leaving a station or running through urban areas, the train can operate clean and (relatively) quiet on battery power. A combination of battery and diesel will be the play when servicing regional routes without electrified lines. And the train can use pantographs to run on electrified routes. The battery bank is also able to recharge while the train is in motion.
They're designed to be compatible with railways across Europe and come with the European Rail Traffic Management System onboard, which helps regulate speed, acceleration and braking while automatically activating safety functions.
The fleet of 20 trains is the first passenger service in Europe to run on hybrid-battery power, and is now operating in Sicily, Sardinia, Tuscany, Lazio, Calabria and Friuli Venezia Giulia. It's also the first part of a €1.25-billion agreement with Trenitalia that could see up to 135 Blues trains running throughout Italy.
"With around 40% of regional lines across the continent remaining un-electrified, battery hybrid technology can have an immediate impact," said Hitachi Rail Group CEO, Luca D'Aquila. "In Italy, the tribrid Blues train is helping cut carbon emissions by 50% compared to existing diesel services. We know that consumers increasingly prioritise the sustainability of their travel choices. Trains like the Masaccio mean that we can ensure comfortable, clean and efficient rail is an option for as many people as possible across Europe."
Hitachi reports that the next version of the Masaccio train is being designed to run on battery-only for more than 100 km (62 miles) per charge. The development is expected to be ready for launch in a couple of years, and the technology will be suitable for retrofitting into current hybrid trains.
Source: Hitachi Rail