Thursday, April 18, 2024

Europe’s first battery train completes phase one roll out in Italy

Hitachi Rail has completed phase one of its production of the ground-breaking battery Masaccio train. The first twenty units have left Hitachi Rail’s Pistoia factory near Florence and are operating on routes across the length and breadth of Italy.

Branded as ‘Blues’ by rail operator Trenitalia, the completion of 20 trains marks the first tranche of an order that sits as part of a €1.23bn framework agreement with Trenitalia for up to 135 trains.

Despite widespread electrification of railways throughout Europe, Hitachi reports that around 40% of rail lines across the European continent are not electrified, and more than half of European trains are entirely powered by diesel fuel. These many un-electrified rail networks are crucial for economic activity. But electrifying these lines is expensive, devastating, and will take decades, if at all.

The Masaccio trains offer an immediate solution to help decarbonize European passenger rail. Debuted at Innotrans 2022 in Berlin, the Masaccio platform has been designed to be suitable for railways across Europe. The Masaccio’s cutting-edge hybrid technology allows the train to seamlessly draw from battery, electric, hybrid, and diesel power.

Hitachi Rail already uses diesel-electric hybrid technology – pioneered on the UK’s Intercity Express fleets. But this is the first-time batteries have been deployed as a major power source on a train fleet for commercial use anywhere in Europe. On electrified routes, the Masaccio will use the pantograph or traction motors to draw power from overhead lines.

The Masaccio is claimed to reduce carbon emissions and fuel costs by up to 50% compared to standard diesel trains that serve non-electrified lines across Europe. By running on battery power, the train can eliminate emissions, including harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx), while also reducing noise pollution.

The train’s DAS (Driver Advisory System) also helps cut emissions by identifying the optimal speed for timetable reliability and the reduction of energy consumption. In a further boost for sustainability, Masaccio trains are made with 93% recyclable materials.

The battery power provides the Masaccio trains with added power and acceleration to tackle tough gradients. Also, the flexibility of the design allows the interior customization to suit everything from high-density commuter journeys to offering more space for leisure equipment, like snowboards or mountain bikes.

Meta: Hitachi Rail has completed the phase one rollout of its battery Masaccio trains, operating on routes across the length and breadth of Italy.