First hybrid train for five French regions unveiled

SNCF Voyageurs and Alstom have presented the first hybrid Régiolis trainset for France following one year of hybridisation project and 8 months of tests.

The validation of the energy storage systems at Alstom’s Tarbes site at the end of 2020 enabled the first Régiolis train to be hybridised at the beginning of 2021 at the Alstom Reichshoffen site. The hybridisation of the train consisted of replacing half of the diesel engines with energy storage systems made up of lithium-ion batteries. The train was also temporarily equipped with a laboratory coach and sensors to measure the train’s energy flows.

Equipped with its two energy storage systems and its laboratory coach, the train started its tests in 2021. A static and dynamic tuning phase at up to 60 km/h took place in Reichshoffen to check the train’s operations and test its hybrid traction mode. The tests then continued on the Velim test center in the Czech Republic with validation and certification tests at up to 160 km/h. All of the train’s new traction modes were tested at high speed and the route simulation models were validated.

The tests showed that the train performed as expected. The rate of energy recycling during braking, which is used to recharge the batteries, is very high, over 90%, allowing energy savings of up to 20%, depending on the itinerary.

With a range of around 20 km, the zero-emission mode allows the train to run without using combustion engines a feature that will be tested in commercial service to reduce pollution in certain urban areas. The hybrid regional train will have the same autonomy on non-electrified lines as the dual-mode diesel-electric version, up to 1,000 km.

The first hybrid Régiolis trainset will soon enter final test phase on the French national railway network which will enable SNCF Voyageurs to finalise the admission file that will be presented to the Public Railway Safety Establishment (EPSF) with a view to obtaining the necessary authorisations for its commercial operation.

This period will also be used by SNCF Voyageurs to prepare the operation of the train in the various territories such as traffic plan as well as staff training. The experimental commercial service will start in the second quarter of 2023 with traffic in each of the partner regions, before considering the deployment of the hybrid solution on the existing Régiolis fleet.

SNCF is announcing that “to offer the regions other alternatives to diesel by 2024-2025, we are also working on other solutions, such as hydrogen and battery-powered trains, as well as the partial electrification of lines,” Carole Desnost, SNCF Group Director of Technology, Innovation and Projects said.

The electric-diesel-battery regional train project was launched in 2018 by SNCF Group and Alstom, with the mobilisation and financial participation of the Occitanie, Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Centre-Val-de-Loire Regions, and the provision by the Occitanie Region of a train from its liO fleet.

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