DB Cargo to develop hybrid technology with Toshiba

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Photo: Deutsche Bahn AG / Jochen Schmidt.

DB Cargo and Japanese high-technology group Toshiba have signed a technology partnership agreement for the joint development of a fleet of 100 new hybrid shunting locomotives.

Following a feasibility study, the first test vehicles are expected to run at the end of 2019.

The current DB Cargo shunter fleet has an average age of 40 years, so it will soon need replacing.  Opting for a hybrid-power solution should reduce both diesel fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

Jürgen Wilder, chairman of DB Cargo’s management board, said that the agreement would “provide DB Cargo with access to sunrise technologies that are not currently available in this form in our home market. In return, we – as the largest rail freight operator in Europe – can pave the way for Toshiba to enter the European market. In other words, this is a classic win-win situation”.

As part of the same announcement, DB Cargo will pass on 200 old Class 151 and Class 155 locomotives to a consortium, led by leasing company Railpool, in which Toshiba is also a partner.

These two similar classes of heavy freight locomotives were built in the early 1970s for West Germany’s Deutsche Bundesbahn and East Germany’s Deutsche Reichsbahn respectively.

The consortium will lease the locomotives back to DB Cargo as they are needed. DB will retain responsibility for locomotive maintenance.

Explaining some of the rationale behind the new agreement, DB Cargo stated that “the leading Asian technological players have still not succeeded in gaining a hold on the European market. This is attributable primarily to their insufficient experience of European rail operations, the complicated approval procedures and the lack of suitable partners.

“DB Cargo seeks to overcome these obstacles in a collaboration with Toshiba and make the European market for rail vehicle technology a more attractive proposition for the future.”

Report by Nigel Wordsworth

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