Hitachi Rail unveils battery hybrid Blues Train at InnoTrans 2022

2 min read

Hitachi Rail’s new Blues tri-mode train, which promises carbon emissions and fuel consumption reductions of 50%, was unveiled today (September 21, 2022) in Berlin, Germany, at the world’s largest rail transport fair, InnoTrans.

Built for Italian train operator Trenitalia, the battery hybrid train, which can arrive at and depart from stations completely under battery power, is the first ever ‘tri-mode’ (using battery, electric and diesel power) train to enter passenger service in Europe, later this year.

The train’s inauguration comes ahead of its introduction into passenger service in Italy later this year where it will offer more seamless, sustainable travel for passengers. The train is derived from Hitachi’s Masaccio platform. The total Blues framework agreement with Trenitalia includes the supply of up to 135 trains worth €1.2bn.

The ‘tri-mode’ Blues train represents a significant breakthrough in the market, with its ability to operate seamlessly on electrified and non-electrified lines. On electrified routes, it uses pantographs to draw power from the overhead lines.

However, when it moves to non-electrified lines, usually smaller regional routes, a combination of battery and diesel power takes over. When it is near a station, the batteries power the train completely, eliminating emissions including harmful NOx and reducing noise pollution. The battery can recharge while the train is in operation, both in diesel and electric mode.

The fleet’s top speed is 160km/h. Yet crucially the extra power offered by the on-board batteries means the Blues train’s acceleration and performance is superior to existing diesel trains, allowing it to offer reduced journey times for passengers.

The Blues train is equipped with innovative European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) digital signaling, which has up until now only been used on high speed trains. This system supports the reduction of the railway’s energy and emissions footprint by regulating the speed, acceleration and braking of trains.

ERTMS also boosts safety by enabling the automatic activation of train safety functions, including emergency braking in case of danger or if trains exceed the track’s line speed. ERTMS is recognized as the European rail standard, making the Blues Train highly interoperable and suitable for operation across Europe.

In a further boost for sustainability, the Blues train is made with 93% recyclable materials, with 96% recoverable. The product is accredited with the Environmental Product Declaration and reflects Hitachi Rail’s commitment to the Circular Economy.

Andrew Barr, group CEO at Hitachi Rail, said, “The Blues train, with its pioneering battery hybrid technology, is a hugely important way for railways across Europe to reduce their carbon emissions, while improving passengers’ journeys.

“We’re thrilled to unveil this technology here in Berlin and to begin passenger service in Italy later this year. We know that decarbonizing transport is a vital mission around Europe, so we’re delighted to provide our customer with effective solutions that lessen the impact on the planet.”

Hitachi Rail is committed to becoming a climate change innovator and is already a global leader in battery train technology. Six years ago, Hitachi Rail introduced the DENCHA train, the world’s first battery-powered passenger train. It is also progressing a battery hybrid intercity train trial in the UK.