SNCF Voyageurs and Alstom present the first French hybrid train

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One year after its hybridization and after eight months of tests, SNCF Voyageurs and Alstom have presented the first French hybrid train at the Alstom site in Reichshoffen, France.

The electric-diesel-battery regional train is the first hybridization project of a Régiolis train in France. The project was launched in 2018 by SNCF Group and Alstom, with the mobilization and financial participation of the Occitanie, Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and Centre-Val-de-Loire Regions.

The ambition of the project is to contribute to the decarbonization of the regional trains fleet. The objectives are to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, with a solution that makes it possible to adapt the existing diesel fleet without having to modify the existing infrastructure.

“The trials of the first Régiolis hybrid train demonstrate that hybridization of diesel trains is a realistic solution, both technically and economically, to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Alstom is particularly proud to contribute with SNCF and the Occitanie, Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Centre-Val-de-Loire regions to a cleaner and more sustainable mobility,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, president, Alstom France.

The validation of the energy storage systems at Alstom’s Tarbes site, at the end of 2020, enabled the first Régiolis to be hybridized at the beginning of 2021 at the Alstom Reichshoffen site. The hybridization 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 at the Velim test center in the Czech Republic, with validation and certification tests at up to 160 km/h. All 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 kilometers, the zero-emission mode allows the train to run without using combustion engines: this feature 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 kilometers.

The first hybrid regional train will soon leave the Reichshoffen site to begin its final test phase on the French national railway network. These final tests will enable SNCF Voyageurs to finalize the admission file that will be presented to the Public Railway Safety Establishment (EPSF) with a view to obtaining the necessary authorizations for its commercial operation.

This period will also be used by SNCF Voyageurs to prepare the operation of the train in the various territories (traffic plan, staff training, etc.). 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.