Railways Illustrated

Chiltern’s Hybridflex Class 168 enters service


(CR) has launched 168329 as the first member of its diesel fleet to be converted into a Hybridflex as the operator seeks to reduce emissions from its fleet.

The Class 168, which is owned by Porterbroo­k and has been fitted with a Rolls-royce mtu hybrid power pack, entered passenger service with the operator on February 10, taking invited guests and fare-paying passengers from London Marylebone to Aylesbury. The train operated with its diesel engine running and in battery-operating mode throughout the 40-mile journey.

The power pack pairs a diesel engine with an electric unit that can function both as a motor and a generator. The technology brings a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions on every journey, while nitrogen oxide and other pollutants are also cut by 70% and 90% respective­ly. The battery system stores power that is recovered during train braking. CR says the train substantia­lly cuts fuel usage and reduces noise by up to 75% in and around stations and urban areas. The train is believed to be the first in the country fitted with similar technology able to operate at speeds of up to 100mph. CR managing director Richard Allan welcomed guests at Marylebone station, saying: “We believe that this Hybridflex is the first 100mph battery train in the country.

“It has been about four years in the making and has been created from a strong partnershi­p between Chiltern, Porterbroo­k, Rolls-royce, Gemini and others to take it from concept to the finished train now in service.

“It offers a huge potential for Chiltern and the railway as a whole. “The battery runs really quietly and Hybridflex is 25% more fuel efficient as a train and has potential to be faster than the other diesel trains in our fleet.

“We look forward to monitoring how the train performs in service over the next year.”

Councillor Tim Mitchell, from Westminste­r City Council, also welcomed the introducti­on of the new train. He said: “Marylebone is the only station in central London which, until today, receives diesel-only trains and we know how important the launch is for the residents who have been advocating for clean air in their community for many years. “It’s wonderful to see what we hope will be the first of many hybrid trains running from the station, and the de-carbonisat­ion of our railway will ensure not only quieter trains, but also that the air our residents breathe is cleaner too.”

Porterbroo­k chief executive officer Mary Grant added: “The entry of our hybrid battery-diesel train Hybridflex into passenger service is great news for Chiltern Railways and its customers.

“It’s a significan­t first step in demonstrat­ing how improvemen­ts to this fleet can reduce emissions and improve air quality both at stations and other locations across the network.

“Hybridflex is part of Porterbroo­k’s growing portfolio of alternativ­e traction systems that are designed to help deliver a more sustainabl­e railway.”

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