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First Converted Hybrid Train with Regenerative Braking Could Be a Game Changer

Hybrid cars and hybrid buses have been around so long now, they have become a normal option in automotive transportation.

In theory the transition to hybrid power for trains should be easy, since many already have drives for both diesel and electric motors — which are used alternatively, depending upon whether the tracks have electric power supplied (in Europe, just over half of the train tracks are electrified, on average).

First Converted Hybrid Train Starts Carrying Passengers

screenshot from Google Maps/Screen capture

But due to factors like the longer capital investment planning cycles, the sensitivity to reliability, and the more extreme conditions faced by trains, hybrid technology has been slow to leap onto the tracks, where it has been limited mostly to shunting locomotives which have particularly high energy losses. That is about to change, with the first converted hybrid train taking passengers in Germany, part of a hybrid train pilot project.

The first hybrid train project will carry passengers between Aschaffenburg und Miltenberg, southeast of Frankfurt on the Main. The route has 14 stops in just 37 km (22 miles), therefore many opportunities to recharge batteries with regenerated braking power.
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