German rail operator DB Cargo to introduce hybrid trains in 2023

DB Cargo is gradually replacing all its current diesel locomotives with machines with alternative drives. The company plans to replace around 900 older diesel locomotives in the long term. The first new vehicles are scheduled to come into service in 2023.

According to Sigrid Nikutta, DB Board Member for Freight Transport and head of DB Cargo, the company sees a savings potential of around 14 million litres of diesel as a result of DB Cargo’s modernisation programme. “We are investing in our locomotive fleet because we are going to grow,” she is quoted as saying in a press release. “With state-of-the-art technology, we are helping to achieve the climate targets in transport.”

DB Cargo’s supply includes 300 new shunting and dual-power locomotives. With the deployment of the new locomotives, the company is aiming for more efficient operations on the last mile and in shunting operations, in addition to the more climate-friendly aspects of the vehicles. The freight railway already operates 95 per cent of its traction power in the route network with climate-friendly electric locomotives. Soon, shunting services in freight stations and the “last mile” to the customer will also be provided by vehicles with dual-power or hybrid technology.

DB Cargo is relying on three pillars to their strategy for the farewell to diesel locomotives: From 2024, 50 locomotives from Vossloh Locomotives are to be used. At the turn of the year, the company won a Europe-wide tender with a new type of hybrid shunting locomotive.

The new machines are designed as plug-in hybrids and have sufficient engine power as well as a modern exhaust gas cleaning system to move goods trains weighing several thousand tonnes in shunting service. The drive systems are modular and can be easily replaced as the technology develops. BD Cargo states that the use of this technology is supported by the federal government with a total of 15 million euros.

Just over a year ago, the manufacturer Siemens Mobility won a DB tender with Vectron Dual Mode locomotives – the second pillar of DB Cargo. After initially ordering 100 locomotives, the freight railway is now increasing the order to 150 units. A further 46 locomotives are to be equipped with specific adaptations for DB Cargo’s planned range of applications, with four machines being taken over by the DB Railway Group. Initial deliveries are planned for 2023.

The hybrid locomotives – or dual-power locomotives in railway parlance – are vehicles for DB Cargo’s line and shunting fleet that can run on both electricity and diesel. According to information from September 2020, the investment volume of the framework agreement amounts to more than one billion euros.

As a third pillar, the company mentions the procurement of hybrid shunting locomotives from Toshiba. A total of 100 Toshiba HDB 800s are to be used by DB Cargo. The first rollout is planned for 2024. As DB Cargo and Toshiba announced at the beginning of 2020, the hybrid locomotives will be manufactured at DB Cargo’s current maintenance plant in Rostock. According to the information provided at the time, the investment in the plant will be in the “mid single-digit million range”. (in German)


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