Toshiba has supplied Japan Freight Rail Co with locomotives powered by a lithium ion battery topped up using a small diesel engine.

GERMANY: Japan’s Toshiba and DB Cargo have agreed to undertake a feasibility study for the joint development and subsequent purchase of an initial 100 battery-diesel hybrid locomotives for shunting and short-distance freight operations. Test vehicles are expected to be available by the end of 2019. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

DB Cargo said its shunting locomotives were reaching the end of their lives, with an average age of 40 years. It has opted to use hybrid technology for their successors as this could offer a significant reduction in fuel consumption, lower maintenance costs and higher fleet availability.

Announcing the agreement with Toshiba on January 9, DB Cargo management board Chairman Jürgen Wilder said the operator’s objective was to increase the number of suppliers of freight locomotives and components, and gain access to emerging technologies which were not available in the domestic market.

DB believes the pace of innovation in the rail freight sector is slowing down, with less competition as European manufacturers discontinue freight activities. Asian companies have not gained a foothold owing to insufficient experience of European operations, complicated vehicle approval procedures and a lack of suitable partners.

Toshiba has previously supplied Japan Freight Rail Co with locomotives which are powered by lithium ion batteries from GS Yuasa topped up by a small diesel engine.

Meanwhile, a consortium of Toshiba and leasing company Railpool has agreed to acquire operational and out of service DB Cargo Class 151 and 155 electric freight locomotives which will be used to form a lease fleet of 200 locomotives. DB Cargo said the deal would give it the ability to lease locomotive capacity flexibility at short notice, helping it cope more efficiently with changing demand. DB Cargo will retain responsibility for maintenance.