The Anonymous Widower

Cutting Emissions – Cleaner, Greener Turbostars

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Engineer.

It is a detailed technical description about how one of Chiltern Trains’s Class 168 trains has been converted to hybrid power.

This extract from the article gives the results of the conversion.

In July 2021, to celebrate Chiltern Railways’ 25th anniversary, the prototype was used to carry a number of invited guests to Bicester for a celebration lunch. The unit achieved speeds of up to 100mph during this demonstration run and operated with emission free battery power into/out of Marylebone and Bicester. The converted train is expected to reduce CO2 by up to 25%, nitrous oxide by up to 70%, particulates by up to 90% and fuel consumption by up to 25%. There was also an expectation that engine noise level will be reduced by 75%.

The article finishes by discussing how all 450 cars of the combined Class 168/170 fleet could be converted.

The article also hopes that the new Chiltern contract could lead to a full conversion of the fleet to hybrid operation.

It is an article well-worth a read.

May 16, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


  1. Yeah, that’s a good article – Rail Engineer (as its name suggests) can generally be relied on to provide more technical details than the standard press release type of article.

    They also make a telling point when they say “environmental benefits … are not valued in business cases”. Time this was overhauled, I think.

    Comment by Peter Robins | May 17, 2022 | Reply

    • Agree with your last statement.

      I live near the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines, which are both electrified. But still we see Class 66 locomotives hauling freight trains through on these lines.

      It does look that the Class 99 locomotives could be ideal to fully electrify these lines.

      Comment by AnonW | May 17, 2022 | Reply

      • bi-modes can be used in the interim for both passenger and freight, but longer-term there needs to be a proper decarbonisation strategy for the whole network. Are they going to have a massive electrification programme, or use low-carbon fuels, or batteries, or what? I’m not sure whether that has to come from the DfT or GBR, but the Treasury will have to take “environmental benefits” into account when deciding whether projects should be funded.

        I was recently in N Spain, and found the same problem there of running diesel trains on electrified lines, both on Renfe and the narrow-gauge Feve network.

        Comment by Peter Robins | May 17, 2022

      • It’s interesting that a number of electric locomotives operated by Freightliner were withdrawn from freight services and replaced by Class 66 diesel-electrics when the cost of electricity started to rise last October. It does seem to be a case of the lunatics taking over the madhouse.

        Comment by fammorris | May 17, 2022

      • Only one lunatic! By the moniker of Vlad the Mad

        Comment by AnonW | May 17, 2022

      • the big discrepancy between fossil fuel and electricity prices causes quite a few crazy things. I was a good boy, and switched from gas to electric in 2020, but financially this can’t be recommended atm. If the government is ever going to persuade people to go electric, they have to address this, for example, by moving the environmental levies from electric to fossil fuels, changing VAT levels, cranking up fuel duties.

        I don’t know what price rail operators pay, but presumably it’s some sort of long-term contract. Spot day-ahead prices for both electric and gas have now fallen to more sensible levels but I doubt whether the longer-term prices will follow suit until it’s clear what will happen next winter.

        Comment by Peter Robins | May 17, 2022

  2. In some ways it’s a similar problem to Project Management in the 1970s. Project Management software in those days ran on large mainframes, which needed large offices, air-conditioning and millions to buy them.

    My friend identified that a small desk-sized computer could do the same job. So I designed and programmed Artemis based on a Hewlett-Packard process control computer and within ten years half of all large projects in the world were managed by the software, I wrote in a Suffolk attic.

    Electrification is just too expensive and disruptive to install for many projects and there are a bunch of companies including Alstom, CAF, Cummins, Furrer+Frey, Hitachi, Siemens and Stadler looking for ways to decarbonise the world’s railways in an affordable and non-disruptive manner.

    When a company or companies have the ideal solution, they will clean up.

    Comment by AnonW | May 17, 2022 | Reply

  3. Regarding the article which is very good, you wouldn’t expect less from someone who was former head of rolling stock, signalling, power and track at London Underground – and he went to Epsom College just like Adrian Shooter.
    I enjoyed your later comments on the way electricity is priced; very true.

    Comment by fammorris | May 17, 2022 | Reply

  4. Electrifying out of Marylebone isn’t going to happen anytime soon so they just need to get on with retrofitting the entire fleet now. This is a proven package on other railway administrations but we are obsessed in this country with reinventing the wheel unnecessarily rather than just take the benefits now.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 17, 2022 | Reply

    • Chiltern is an interesting network to decarbonise.

      It has both long-distance and suburban trains and some tracks are shared with the London Underground.

      It’s also a company owned by DB, who have similar problems with decarbonisation in Germany, as there are on the Chiltern network.

      I could see a discontinuous electrification solution and battery-electric trains being used on Chiltern.

      But the low-carbon Class 168/170s would be a good stop-gap.

      I suspect too, that Porterbrook would fund the conversion of existing trains.

      Comment by AnonW | May 17, 2022 | Reply

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