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Energy transition on rail

9/19/2018 | Words: Christoph Ringwald | Pictures: MTU, Porterbrook, Irish Rail, Alstom

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MTU is showcasing its production-ready hybrid drive technology for railcars at Innotrans, the international trade fair for transport technology, in Berlin, as the sales have successfully demonstrated – the State-owned rail operator in Ireland, Irish Rail, the UK-based rolling stock leasing companys Porterbrook and Alpha Trains and the partners Abellio, Alstom and the Saxony-Anhalt regional transport service (Nahverkehrsservice Sachsen-Anhalt) all signed letters of intent at the trade fair for the purchase of MTU hybrid drive systems.

IFrameAccordingly, Irish Rail will purchase 9 MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, Porterbrook 4, the group consisting of Abellio, Alstom and Nahverkehrsservice Sachsen-Anhalt 6 in the very near future. Contracts to this effect are now being prepared. For the period following the completion of tests by the customers, the purchase of hybrid drives in the three-digit range in each case for retrofitting each of the fleets of passenger trains has already been included in the agreements. 

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The MTU Hybrid PowerPack is an environmentally friendly drive system which combines the advantages of diesel and battery-powered rail traction. It incorporates an MTU diesel engine which fulfils future EU Stage V emissions regulations; plus an electric machine, which can be used either as an electric motor or generator; and an MTU EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking. This enables very low-noise, emissions-free battery-only electric operation in urban areas and around stations.

Partial electrification will effectively reduce CO2 emissions on rail
“Only 60 per cent of the German rail network is equipped with overhead catenary systems, increasing to 70 per cent by 2025, according to the coalition contract. At the same time, C02 emissions in the transport sector have been stagnating at a high level now for years. Partial electrification using intelligent hybrid technology is the solution to reduce emissions significantly, even if no overhead catenary systems are installed,“ says Lars Kräft, Vice President Industrial Business at Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

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Abellio Rail Mitteldeutschland, Alstom, Nahverkehrsservice Sachsen-Anhalt GmbH (NASA) and MTU plan to jointly implement a new hybrid drive solution on Abellio’s fleet of Coradia Lint diesel trains. 

 In the course of the last few years, MTU has continued to develop its hybrid technology to the point where it is now ready for series production. In combination with the “Intelligent Drive Manager“, a driver assistance system, which is celebrating its debut at Innotrans, and a new transmission system, the drive unit can achieve fuel savings in excess of 30 per cent, depending on the vehicle and timetable. The modular design of the system makes it possible to connect the Hybrid PowerPack to a wide variety of different transmission and battery systems, thus providing individually tailored solutions for the various vehicles and applications that meet the specific requirements of each route profile.

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MTU and Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail, the state-owned railway of the Republic of Ireland agreed that from the year 2021 initially nine MTU Hybrid PowerPacks would be supplied for Class 22000 rail vehicles. 

“The MTU Hybrid PowerPack impressed me very much – it is a perfect example of innovative and environmentally-friendly high-tech from Germany. It provides rapid mobility combined with fewer emissions and a subsequent improvement in air quality. As a result of the local emission-free operation and the possibility of making up for delays, the drive solution makes rail travel significantly more attractive for passengers and local residents alike. In addition to that, this alternative drive system can make a major contribution to achieving our climate goals in local passenger rail transport. We should put this production-ready technology on rail in Germany as soon as possible and arouse the interest of new customers in rail travel,” says Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Andreas Scheuer, as did his British counterpart Christopher Grayling, visited the MTU stand at Innotrans, where he had the benefits of the Hybrid PowerPacks on rail presented to him by Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. 

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MTU and Porterbrook, the UK’s largest owner of passenger rolling stock, have agreed the delivery of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks that can convert Class 168 and Class 170 ‘Turbostar’ DMUs from diesel-only to hybrid-electric operation. 

From engine manufacturer to integrated solutions provider 
“We are delighted at the tremendous interest being shown in our product – not only because we see great commercial potential in partial electrification, but also because the technology is part of the process of transforming our company from being an engine manufacturer to becoming a provider of complete drive and energy solutions,“ said Andreas Schell in summary. 

As part of its transformation process, MTU is now placing a strong emphasis on digitalised drive systems and an increase in electrification, and has also set up a new ”Digital Solutions“ department. MTU is not only focusing on the energy transition in its core business in drive systems, but is also focusing on ”smart grids“ –  intelligent, distributed energy supply systems for the energy world of the future. 


The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.

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