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Tribrid Trains Are Now Running in Europe

Europe’s first trains to use batteries as a main source of power have arrived. Hitachi Rail announced that 20 tribrid trains - nicknamed 'Blues' - are now running on rail lines across Italy.


Hitachi tribrid Blues train
Credit: Hitachi Rail

Europe's rail network is undergoing a renaissance at the moment, with multiple trans-national sleeper services starting to operate, France about to introduce its luxurious new, greener and exceptionally fast ‘Trains à Grande Vitesse’, and Germany launching the world's first hydrogen fuel-cell passenger train - which emits only stream and water.


Now, Europe has a tribrid train with the ability to switch between battery power, electricity and diesel. They can travel roughly ten miles relying only on batteries, which recharge on their own as the train rolls down the tracks. The batteries can replenish themselves whenever the train is braking or by drawing electricity from an overhead apparatus that connects the train to a power line.


Each train can accommodate up to 300 passengers and has three to four cars. While the trains - which are made from 93 percent recyclable materials - can technically reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, an onboard driver advisory system recommends the optimal speed to help reduce energy use.


Compared to trains that rely exclusively on diesel, the new hybrids will reduce fuel consumption by 50 percent, says Hitachi. They also have the benefit of being much quieter when powered by battery.


Soon, a total of 135 battery-powered trains will be ferrying passengers across the country as part of a $1.34 billion project. In the next two years, Hitachi plans to release an upgraded model of the train that can travel up to 62 miles using only battery power.


In recent years, European rail operators have also been making efforts to electrify their tracks. But progress has been slow so far, and more than half of the continent’s trails still run on diesel. In light of these difficulties, Hitachi says that battery-powered trains may offer “an immediate solution to help decarbonise European passenger rail.”

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