Batteries speed railcars

Hitachi has developed a battery system that it claims will allow designers to develop much faster self-propelled railway vehicles.


Japan’s electrical equipment giant Hitachi has developed a battery system that it claims will allow designers to develop much faster self-propelled railway vehicles.


With this system, diesel hybrid railcars, which are designed for passenger transport, will be able to travel at speeds up to around 200 km/h for the first time in the world, according to the company.


Hitachi aims to commercialise the system in three years.


Diesel hybrid railcars, which can charge their batteries with the energy that is generated when slowing down, are 10-20 per cent more fuel-efficient than existing diesel railcars.


About 100,000 such vehicles are currently operated around the globe.


Unfortunately, the diesel hybrid railcars now in use are slower than current diesel railcars, with speeds of only up to 100 km/h due to their limited battery capacities.


In Japan, diesel hybrid railcars have been introduced so far only in some areas, but Hitachi believes the battery system will accelerate the spread of such vehicles in the country.