Commercial Vehicles

Toshiba to build hybrid trains for DB Cargo


DB Cargo is procuring 50 hybrid locomotives from Japan’s Toshiba to replace existing diesel locomotives. In addition, Deutsche Bahn’s freight unit is leasing another 50 of Toshiba’s hybrid locomotives.

According to DB Cargo and Toshiba, the hybrid locomotives are to be manufactured in DB Cargo’s existing maintenance depot in Rostock starting in 2021. The investments in the facility in the north of Germany will initially be in the “mid-single-digit millions range” and the number of new jobs will be in the “mid-double-digit range,” say the partners. Prior to this decision, there had been lengthy negotiations regarding the location and in the end, Rostock prevailed over Kiel.

According to DB Cargo, the new order will replace 61 pure diesel locomotives with 50 hybrid locomotives with diesel-electric drive. The Deutsche Bahn subsidiary considers the concept developed together with Toshiba as part of a feasibility study to be the most resource-efficient solution. “We save 30 per cent energy and 1 million litres of diesel per year,” says Sigrid Nikutta, DB Group Management Board Member for Freight Transport and DB Cargo. “In addition, thanks to modern technology, the vehicles are easier for our employees to operate.”

The Toshiba HDB 800 uses SCiB (Super Charge Ion Battery) power storage. These are lithium titanate batteries with a cathode made of lithium titanium spinel instead of the graphite commonly found in lithium-ion batteries. The advantages are higher cycle stability and increased safety even in the event of mechanical damage. Disadvantages are the lower energy density of the cells (resulting in larger and heavier batteries) and the higher manufacturing price.

In the case of the Toshiba hybrid locomotives, the battery modules can be charged externally, thus potentially increasing the proportion of renewable energy used in rail freight transport.


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