A HYBRID diesel-battery train is about to start carrying passengers on Chiltern Railways. The HybridFLEX, a converted two-car Class 168 unit fitted with a Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drive, is the product of a four-year partnership between Chiltern Railways, Porterbrook and Rolls-Royce.
The train is the first battery-diesel in Britain which is capable of running at 160km/h (100mph).
Chiltern said the batteries would reduce diesel consumption by 25 per cent and also cut carbon emissions and other pollutants. The battery mode is mainly being used while arriving and departing at stations.
The unit is running initially between London Marylebone and Aylesbury, but is also expected to run on the London-Oxford route within a few months.
Class 168s were originally introduced by Chiltern in 1998 under the brand name 'Clubman' and were built by ADtranz, which became part of Bombardier in 2001. They were the first new passenger trains to be launched following the start of franchises in 1996 and 1997, and have remained in service with Chiltern ever since.
Chiltern Railways managing director Richard Allan said: 'Chiltern Railways is determined to operate a railway that is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. We have worked hard with our partners to fit a powerful battery power pack underneath a 20-year old diesel train to make the train cleaner, quieter and quicker.
'We are really proud that this concept train is now carrying customers and look forward to assessing its performance in daily service.'