Leasing company Porterbrook is developing a bi-mode variant of Northern’s Class 319 EMU.
Porterbrook said with the concept design now complete, Wabtec/Brush will begin a more detailed design phase, with a view to completing the first units by spring 2018.
The Class 319 Flex will have a diesel-powered alternator under each of the two driving trailer cars which will power traction and other ancillary systems.
Eight of Northern’s 32 four-car Class 319 fleet will undergo the conversion.
Porterbrook said the design requires minimal modifications to the train. Additional batteries could also be fitted to improve performance on non-electrified sections.
Zena Dent, projects and technical director for Porterbrook, said: “The highly innovative Class 319 Flex will be a flexible and highly efficient unit that will provide operators with a ‘go anywhere’ train, something which is not currently available with any other rolling stock solution.”
The project has been supported by transport authority Rail North.
David Hoggarth, Rail North director, said: “We are very pleased to work together with rail industry partners to support the development of this innovative rolling stock solution that will contribute to the transformation of rail services currently underway in the north of England, helping to support economic growth.”
Northern has said the Class 319 units will remain a part of its fleet following the introduction of the 43 new EMUs and 55 new DMUs procured from CAF as part of the new Northern franchise.
Rob Warnes, performance and planning director for Northern, added: “We are really proud to be involved in this pioneering development.
“Bi-mode trains will bring the benefits of railway modernisation, to more customers, more quickly. This technology opens up new opportunities to spread the benefits of electrification to non-electrified routes, delivering more capacity and bringing exciting innovation to the North’s railways.”