Blues train sicily

Sicily introduces hybrid train that can run on electricity, battery and diesel

Image credit: Hitachi

Sicily is introducing a new, Hitachi-built hybrid train that can run electrically, on battery or on diesel depending on which part of the network it is travelling on.

Hitachi Rail said the new 'Blues' train, which is the first of its type to enter passenger service in Europe, could reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by up to 50 per cent when compared to traditional trains.

The train is ready to begin passenger service following its international presentation at rail expo Innotrans last September in Berlin.

The Blues is equipped with a new generation of hybrid technology: the train can travel with diesel engines on non-electrified lines, with pantographs on electrified lines, and with batteries, where applicable, to travel the last mile on non-electrified lines or while stopping at stations, avoiding the use of fuel.

Batteries also help to further improve normal power performance. Switching off the engines during the arrival, parking and departure from stations allows a 50 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to current diesel trains as well as helping to reduce noise pollution, Hitachi said.

The Blues train is also equipped with an air-conditioning system designed to optimise power consumption based on the actual number of passengers on board. Other on-board technologies designed to minimise energy consumption include internal and external LED lighting systems and the use of smart parking.

It also includes USB and 220V power sockets for greater connectivity, as well as bike areas and high luggage transport capacity.

The trains can reach a maximum speed of 160km/h with an acceleration of 1.10m/s2 and can accommodate up to 300 people seated in the four-cars composition.

The Blues train has been designed with high levels of recyclability (95 per cent) in the materials during manufacture.

Andrea Pepi, executive director at Hitachi Rail, said: “The Blues train is a great technological challenge that we are proud to have undertaken.

“Our goal is to deliver innovations that translate both into higher-quality travel for passengers and benefits for the environment, and ultimately delivering value to our customers.

“Regional transport is crucial in the decarbonisation process, so we are aware of our role in achieving this important milestone, which brings benefits to the world. We hope that with the Blues train, starting today in Sicily and soon in other Italian regions, we can significantly mark the transition from individual to mass mobility, which is greener and safer.”

The total Blues framework agreement with state-owned rail operator Trenitalia includes the supply of up to 135 trains worth €1.2bn. For Sicily, 22 of the trains will travel in the region.

The UK’s first dual-system hybrid train entered passenger service earlier this year, albeit lacking the pantograph apparatus that allows the Blues train to run on electric lines.

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