Irish Rail planning to convert inter-city rail fleet to hybrid

Fuel savings of about 33%, with reduced noise and carbon emissions if trials are successful


Irish Rail is planning to convert its entire inter-city rail fleet to hybrid technology, with fuel savings of about one third, if upcoming trials are successful.

Under a partnership with Rolls-Royce, the engine maker will supply, install and commission nine hybrid power packs for intercity “Railcar” trains - the backbone of the fleet.

The trials will begin at the end of 2019 and be complete by 2021. If successful Irish rail would then convert its entire inter-city fleet of 234 Railcars to hybrid technology.

Initial investment will be €2.8 million for nine carriages .

Simulations have demonstrated that a hybrid power pack, the MTU Hybrid PowerPack developed by a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, can produce fuel savings of up to 33 percent.

Under the National Development Plan, the State’s rail fleet is to be increased by 300 vehicles - an increase of almost 50 percent - with electric and hybrid options being used as part of a strategy to move away from diesel power for new trains.

The deployment of hybrid trains could also facilitate the Dart expansion programme, which will see the electrification of routes to Drogheda, Maynooth/M3 Parkway and Hazelhatch over the lifetime of the plan.

MTU Hybrid PowerPackis a more eco-friendly drive system than diesel alone. The diesel engine combines with an electric machine which can be used either as a motor or a generator and energy recovered during braking can be stored in the battery pack.

In addition the trains should be able to move through urban areas on electric energy alone, giving savings in diesel fuel, CO2 emissions, urban pollution and noise.

Around stations drive noise falls by as much as 75 percent . The total operating costs of rail vehicles with MTU hybrid drives are also significantly lower, and brake pads and discs have reduced wear due to brake energy recuperation.

Because of the additional power of the electric machine, train operators can make up time delays using the improved drive dynamics and acceleration. This also enables more frequent connections as well as allowing additional stops.

In Europe, about half of the continent’s trains are electric and the hybrid system has been well received , particularly in Germany.

The world’s first hybrid train now runs between Aschaffenburg and Miltenberg, with 14 stops on a 37 km route.