Electric trains are obviously kinder to the environment than diesel-powered trains, but overhead wires are not available on all rail lines. The solution is battery powered trains that run on electricity stored in batteries when necessary, overhead wires where available, and kinetic energy recaptured through regenerative braking when the trains slow for a station.
Siemens has announced it has a received an order for 20 such hybrid electric trains for SFBW, the transportation agency of Baden-Württemberg. The trains are made up of two cars coupled together with seats for 120 passengers. The trains have a range of 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) on battery power alone and recharge the batteries when overhead wires are available.
According to a Siemens press release, the trains will be built at the Siemens Mobility factory in Krefeld, Germany and delivered before the end of 2023. The batteries are mounted beneath the cars and utilize long lasting lithium-ion batteries with a service life of nearly 30 years. Part of the purchase contract calls for Siemens to maintain the trains for 29.5 years. The €77 million purchase is financed by KfW IPEX Bank over a term of 28 years.
“With this order, the state of Baden-Württemberg is investing in the future of mobility. Our battery-powered train Mireo Plus B makes climate-friendly, locally emission-free passenger transport possible, thus offering a sustainable alternative to the use of diesel-powered trains on non-electrified rail routes. We will guarantee the availability of the fleet with our maintenance of the trains over their entire lifecycle,” says Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens Mobility
“In the interest of sustainability, we’ve deliberately opted for a “lifecycle model’,” says Winfried Hermann, transportation minister for Baden-Württemberg. “We’re breaking new ground in converting to climate friendly propulsion systems in local transport by introducing this new technology and want to commit the company to this technology through contractual arrangements. Siemens is also responsible for energy consumption and energy costs over the entire contract period of 29.5 years.”
In this instance, the cost of the battery electric trains is less than the cost of constructing new overhead wires for parts of the rail system that lack such infrastructure. Any technology that eliminates diesel engine emissions is welcome news for the environment.