First hybrid TER train in France - Successful tests: start of production in anticipation of trials from early 2021
The prototype for the energy storage system of the first hybrid TER train has completed its trials on the test bench at Alstom's Tarbes site (departmental code 65), a centre of excellence for "green" traction systems. The tests have made it possible to finalise the design and start manufacturing the pre-series systems in September. They will be installed on the first experimental hybrid TER train in early 2021.
A French first
This hybrid TER represents France's first project to produce a hybrid Régiolis train. The project to hybridise a train was launched by Alstom in 2018 in partnership with SNCF and the French regions of Centre-Val de Loire, Grand Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie. The hybridisation involves replacing half of the thermal engines with storage systems made up of lithium-ion batteries.
Working towards a greener TER rail fleet
The targeted objectives are a 20% reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a reduction in operating and maintenance costs. The lithium-ion batteries will make it possible to recover and store braking energy for reuse. The traction will be more economical, combining thermal energy and stored energy. Representing another benefit, the thermal engines can be stopped during extended halts in stations, with the train then being powered by its batteries. Finally, this technology will help to maintain performance in the event of low catenary voltage.
Successful bench tests
After an engineering phase, the storage system prototype was installed on the test bench at Alstom's Tarbes site at the end of 2019. The aim was to validate the system by simulating the train's operating conditions. Journeys were simulated in 'zero-emission' mode, using batteries only, as were journeys in 'hybridisation' mode, using thermal engines and batteries. Several months of tests have made it possible to finalise the design of the traction box – the energy storage system comprising the lithium-ion batteries and a power converter.
First modified train to undergo tests from 2021
The manufacture of the pre-series traction boxes started in September 2020 at Alstom's Tarbes site. At the same time, SNCF and Alstom are continuing their work on regulatory safety demonstrations and development. The first train, a Regiolis Occitanie train already in service, will be hybridised as of early 2021 at Alstom's Reichshoffen factory; tests will take place over the course of the year. The trials will then continue in commercial service from 2022 to validate the functions and performance of the solution in real conditions, with a view to mass deployment.
"The tests and validation of the energy storage system conducted at our centre of excellence for traction in Tarbes already demonstrate that the hybridisation of thermal trains is a technically and economically feasible solution for reducing emissions and costs. Alstom is particularly proud to be contributing to cleaner and more sustainable mobility alongside SNCF and the regions of Occitanie, Grand Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Centre-Val de Loire," declares Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, President of Alstom in France.
"We are today taking a new step towards a form of rail mobility that is increasingly respectful of the planet. The hybrid TER is part of the range of solutions to which we are committed, alongside the regions, in order to produce more TERs and less CO2, with our programme PLANETER. Because each situation is different, we have multiple solutions. My thanks go to Alstom and the regions of Occitanie, Grand Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Centre-Val de Loire for the quality of our partnership." Frank Lacroix, TER Managing Director
"The goal of 'zero emission' transport is a powerful driver for innovation. Rail is already a mode that does not emit much CO2, and it will soon be even better thanks to the hybrid TER. It's what the passengers, as well as the regions, are very much expecting. Hybridisation is now entering the production phase: it deserves everyone's utmost determination because it is a promising solution for making rapid, significant progress." Carole Desnost, Director of Research and Innovation at SNCF
"The challenge of mobility throughout the Centre-Val de Loire region is our priority. It involves safeguarding and renovating local lines, to which we are strongly committed with the State, but also the fundamental issue of renewing trains. We have therefore decided to make an ambitious commitment to the hybridisation of existing material. The programme's entry into the production phase demonstrates how relevant it is and provides a glimpse of cleaner trains in the near future, close to the local regions and the inhabitants!" François Bonneau, President of the Centre-Val de Loire Region.
"With this shared initiative, we are developing a new alternative to the trains and locomotives that run entirely on fossel fuel on non-electrified lines. Thanks to hybrid, rail mobility is taking a decisive step towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. This is a promising new technological challenge and a real step towards carbon-free mobility." Jean Rottner, President of the Grand Est Region.
"Making the TER train fleet greener is one of the major objectives laid out in the roadmap of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, Néo Terra, intended to speed up the ecological transition. Our goal: to make TER trains diesel-free by 2030. To achieve this, various technologies are being considered in the region: trains with rechargeable batteries, hydrogen trains, trains that run on bioNGV and of course hybrid trains, for which I am delighted to see the start of production. Very soon, a hybrid TER will be on the rails, which is excellent news for our users, for the industry, and for the planet." Alain Rousset, President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region.
"Hybridisation, hydrogen trains or trains with rechargeable batteries, all these developments must be supported to commit our rail network to an even more virtuous approach. Of course, the train is the cleanest form of transport, but maintaining the very highest standards is essential if we are to maintain our position as a leader. In addition to acquiring less polluting material, we must also, collectively, fight for the development of the network. Let the train be accessible in every local region, let the TGV allow the inhabitants of Toulouse and Perpignan to reach Paris, let the night train win back its former glory." Carole Delga, President of the Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region.
 The Régiolis train belongs to Alstom's Coradia Polyvalent range of regional trains. More than 300 state-of-the-art Coradia Polyvalent trains for Régiolis are currently in operation in France. The train concerned by the hybridisation project is a so-called "dual-mode" train (electric and thermal).