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Traction options proliferate

Traction options proliferate

15 March 2018

The imminent debut of fuel cell-powered trains in Germany has raised interest in hydrogen as a form of 'zero-emission' traction, but energy storage options and the growing adoption of electro-diesel bi-modes offer a range of alternatives to traditional diesel and electric traction. Reports on some of the global initiatives in the development of fuel cell technology, including those by both Alstom and Siemens. Notes that onboard energy storage offers a route to cleaner traction and reduced emissions at the point of use, as well as reducing overall energy consumption by capturing braking energy for reuse. Notes also the development of diesel-battery hybrid locomotives for freight work. Alternative fuels are another area of development. In November, Arriva signed a €170M contract for Stadler to supply 18 Flirtino multiple units which will be able to use overhead electrification or hydro-treated vegetable oil. Concludes that the bi-mode electro-diesel multiple unit is here to stay, but could one day be superseded by fuel cell-powered trains. However, before such a move takes place, the results of the operation of the iLint trainsets in Germany must be assessed.

Railway Gazette, Feb. 2018. pp.30-33.