JR West DEC700

JAPAN: This month JR West is to begin dynamic testing of its prototype Kawasaki Heavy Industries DEC700 diesel railcar, which is designed for future conversion to battery-diesel hybrid operation.

The DEC700 is being considered as a possible replacement for the ageing KiHa40 railcars from the JNR era which are still in service on a number of non-electrified lines in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The railcar is similar to JR East’s HB-E210 and JR Kyushu’s YC1, and shares components with recent JR West EMUs with the aim of reducing maintenance costs.

It is 20 m long, 2 800 mm wide, and can carry up to 90 passengers, with 25 seated. The diesel engine drives a generator providing power for the traction motors in a conventional manner, but there is provision for the installation a battery to provide hybrid operation using blended power. Trials with a battery traction package are planned for next year.

The tests will include evaluation of acceleration, braking and starting performance, and an assessment of safety and comfort and the stresses acting on the bogies.