When I first saw this I immediately coined the phrase tribrid, and thought that this might just be the correct way forward.
There are many arguments between environmentalists and oil producers as to whether a full switch to green power is necessary, sensible or even economically possible, but there is very much a general consensus that where or when green power can be used in a responsible and economical way to avoid the use of fossil fuels, it should be. This seems to be the ethos behind this latest breed of locomotive that is being provided for London North Eastern Railway (LNER) by CAF, and with Porterbrook being the financier of the new fleet of 10 trains.
Capable of being powered by any of diesel, electric or battery, a tribrid locomotive can provide the best of all worlds - relying on catenary power (overhead wires used to supply electricity to the motor of the locomotive) when such cabling has been installed, relying on battery power when a charge is available and catenary power is not, and diesel when neither of the others are available. This is a great concept and I hope that it really does enable LNER to be on track to reduce its emissions by 67% by 2035 and be net zero by 2045.
I can envision further versions of this to be created in the future, with either a replacement third or an additional fourth type of power. Referencing the article I wrote about in November, the FCH2RAIL hydrogen demonstrator train (a converted CIVIA 463 train) - also by CAF, but also in conjunction with Adif and Renfe, has a hybrid system that can operate either as a conventional electric train using catenary power (overhead wires used to supply electricity to the motor of the locomotive) or it can use stored hydrogen and fuel cells and batteries connected to the same motor for likewise operating the train under electric power. Perhaps the hydrogen storage and fuel cells could replace or supplement the diesel in the above tribrid locomotive?
With these powerhouse companies working on solutions like this, I believe that the future is bright for rail. We now just need ticket prices to come down so that we can leave behind our cars and jump on trains instead!
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