March 4, 2024


Hitachi Railways has announced that the first phase of deployment of its Masaccio trains has been completed, with the line “across Italy”. The passenger fleet, dubbed Blues by rail operator Trenitalia, is the first in Europe to run on battery, electric and diesel power.

While electrification is widespread across European railways, Hitachi reports that more than 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) of track in Italy have yet to be electrified, and the situation is similar across the continent, where more than half of trains in operation run on diesel only.

Upgrading the entire network will prove to be a costly and disruptive endeavor, and there are areas where electrification could be challenging, if not impossible. This is where designing with batteries in the power mix may help operators meet their low-emissions goals.

The Masaccio platform was unveiled at the InnoTrans 2022 trade show in Berlin, and the first trains capable of running solely on batteries, overhead cable power or diesel engines have been in service in Sicily since December. In addition to reducing carbon emissions by up to 50%, 3-in-1 trains also significantly reduce fuel costs compared to diesel-only trains. A highlight in the field of sustainable mobility, they are manufactured from 93% recyclable materials.

Battery/electric/diesel Blues train expected to cut emissions and fuel costs by 50%
Battery/electric/diesel Blues train expected to cut emissions and fuel costs by 50%

Hitachi Railway

The Masaccio Single Deck can be configured with two, four or the entire under-deck lithium-ion battery pack (with cooling system on the roof). The train can accelerate at 1.10 m/s, reach a top speed of 160 km/h (186 mph), and has three or four air-conditioned carriages for up to 300 passengers.

These compartments are designed to provide more luggage and bike capacity than current compartments, as well as ample USB and power outlets. Getting in and out should also be a breeze thanks to platform-level access control, especially for wheelchair users and stressed parents with prams.

When leaving a station or traveling through urban areas, the train can run cleanly and (relatively) quietly on battery power. The combination of batteries and diesel will come into play when servicing regional lines that do not have electrified lines. And trains can run on electrified lines using pantographs. The battery pack can also be charged while the train is in motion.

They are designed to be compatible with railways across Europe and are equipped with the European Rail Traffic Management system, which helps regulate speed, acceleration and braking, while automatically activating safety functions.

The Masaccio triple train can optionally be equipped with three or four carriages
The Masaccio triple train can optionally be equipped with three or four carriages

Hitachi Railway

The fleet of 20 trains is Europe’s first hybrid battery-powered passenger service and is currently operating in Sicily, Sardinia, Tuscany, Lazio, Calabria and Friuli Venice. Leah runs. It is also the first part of a 1.25 billion euro deal with Trenitalia that could see as many as 135 Blues trains run across Italy.

“About 40 percent of feeder lines on the continent have yet to be electrified, and battery hybrid technology could have an immediate impact,” said Luca D’Aquila, chief executive of Hitachi Rail Group. 3-in-1 Blues trains help reduce carbon emissions by 50% compared to diesel service. We know consumers are increasingly placing more emphasis on sustainability in their travel choices. Trains like the Masaccio mean we can ensure comfort, clean and Efficient rail is an option for as many people as possible in Europe.”

Hitachi reports that the next-generation Masaccio trains are designed to travel more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) per charge using only batteries. The development is expected to be ready for rollout within a few years, and the technology will be suitable for retrofitting into current hybrid trains.

source: Hitachi Railway