TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS and Siemens Transportation Systems are extending their Eco-Mode programme, which was launched in July to improve the environmental credentials of the UK train operating company's 51-strong fleet of Class 185 Desiro DMUs.

Eco-Mode focuses on reducing fuel consumption by encouraging drivers to adopt more efficient driving techniques, analysing fuel consumption against the gradient and speed profiles of routes covered by the Class 185s. TPE says this has already reduced fuel consumption by 7% and reduced engine running time by 80 min per vehicle per day, equivalent to 1·8 million litres of fuel per year.

The three-car sets have all vehicles powered by a 750 hp Cummins QSK19 underfloor engine. Empty stock movements are routinely undertaken on a single engine, and gradient modelling of the TPE network has enabled Siemens engineers to develop a 'route map' for drivers showing where schedules can be maintained with the use of only two engines.

An automatic shutdown feature for use at depots and stabling points has been introduced, as TPE Engineering Director Nick Donovan acknowledges that the QSK19 power unit 'does not like idling'.

TPE is to step up its driver training this month in the search for further gains. Donovan suggests that the operator faces a cultural challenge as much a technical one, getting the drivers to trust the Class 185 to start from cold rather than leaving units to idle for long periods when not in revenue service. 'We said that if they could trust their car to start from cold in the morning, they could trust the 185 too', he comments.

Siemens is working on an algorithm that will enable one of the three engines to be shut down automatically whilst running over pre-defined sections of line, such as the steeply-graded descent from Standedge Tunnel to Stalybridge. However, the drivers would still have a manual override. A cab display will show fuel usage, helping the drivers to see how changes in driving technique translate into fuel savings.

TPE believes fuel consumption could be cut by as much as 20% when the Eco-Mode programme is fully implemented.

  • CAPTION: The modification of each Class 185 DMU for Eco-Mode operation is denoted by the letter E applied to the cab front