hitachi blues launch InnoTrans 2022 B Zelki (1)

Photos: Benjámin Zelki

INNOTRANS: Hitachi Rail and Trenitalia unveiled a tri-mode regional multiple-unit in Berlin on September 21 which is branded ‘Blues’ in keeping with the national operator’s musically-themed fleet designations.

The manufacturer claims that the Blues will be the first diesel-battery-electric passenger train in Europe when it starts running in Sicily in October. Stadler was also showing a tri-mode Flirt multiple-unit for Transport for Wales at InnoTrans, but this is not expected to enter service before the end of the year at the earliest.

The single-deck Blues trainset is able to operate using 3 kV DC overhead electrification and from a combination of a diesel powerpack and battery power for operation away from the wires.

hitachi blues launch InnoTrans 2022 B Zelki (2)

The diesel engine is Euro Stage VI-compliant, which minimises harmful emissions, while the battery pack would be used primarily for acceleration and braking, and around stations to reduce noise and pollution.

Hitachi says the design has superior acceleration and a higher maximum speed of 160 km/h than the trains currently used on non-electrified lines thanks to the battery top-up function. All the trains have ETCS onboard equipment fitted and have seats for 300 passengers.

The supplier has a €1∙2bn framework agreement with Trenitalia to supply up to 135 Blues trains for use throughout Italy, of which a firm order has been placed for 43. An initial batch of 17 will run in Sicily, while Trenitalia has allocated 11 for Toscana, eight in Sardinia, four in Val d’Aosta and Lazio the remaining three.

The fleet is being manufactured at Hitachi Rail’s factories in Pistoia and Napoli.