Yesterday, 21st July 2021, Chiltern Railways and Porterbrook invited RailAdvent down to London Marylebone to see the unveiling of their new Class 168 HybridFLEX train.
Work by Chiltern Railways, Rolls Royce and Porterbrook means that the Class 168 is now fitted with the most recent environmentally friendly diesel engine and a high capacity battery pack.
We were introduced to the HybridFLEX train at London Marylebone, arriving for the first time in London from Aylesbury.
After a few words from Chiltern Railways Managing Director, Richard Allan, and Rail Minister, Chris Heaton Harris, who was, unfortunately, unable to attend due to being in self-isolation, the train was named to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Chiltern Railways.
Next up, the ribbon was cut, and we boarded the train to Bicester Village.
Departing at 10:30, the train was able to stretch its legs at up to 100 mph before arriving at Bicester Village at 11:20.
HybridFLEX is due to enter full service in September and is a collaboration between Porterbrook and Rolls Royce that will offer zero emissions and near-silent (yes it really is quiet – all trains at Marylebone had their engines turned off before HybridFLEX arrived). The PowerPack will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 25%.
NOx, or Nitrous Oxide, emissions will be cut by 70% and particulate emissions by more than 90% when compared to the outgoing engines currently being used by Chiltern Railway’s fleet.
Once we had arrived at Bicester Village, more photos were taken before some of the group left for lunch.
The train was stabled in the platform at Bicester Village for an hour before it returned to Aylesbury Depot after its VIP day.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: “HybridFLEX trains will make rail travel even greener and the air in our stations cleaner.
“Chiltern Railways have connected people for a quarter of a century and now are helping to prepare for the future as we build back greener. This is a great example of how innovation and enterprise can help us reach our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050.”
Richard Allan, Managing Director at Chiltern Railways said: “Chiltern has a fantastic track record of innovating and investing in new routes, stations, depots and trains to attract and retain customers. We are proud and privileged to mark our 25th anniversary by introducing colleagues and stakeholders to the HybridFLEX train. We need to modernise Chiltern again and this exciting use of new technology in an older train is a potentially very significant opportunity to help us decarbonise and improve our customer experience.”
Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said: “We are delighted to be able to support Chiltern Railways’ ambitious plans for the future. Our HybridFLEX, built in partnership with Rolls-Royce, will offer improved air quality and reduced noise at stations and other sensitive locations on the Chiltern network.
“HybridFLEX is part of Porterbrook’s growing portfolio of alternative traction systems designed to help Britain’s railway accelerate the race to Net Zero.”
Warren East, Chief Executive Officer at Rolls-Royce said: “This collaboration demonstrates the pivotal role technology is already playing in the transition towards a Net Zero future. With 1.7bn passenger rail journeys taking place every year in the UK, the 25% reduction in CO2 emissions offered by HybridFLEX represents a meaningful step forward in the country’s journey towards its 2050 Net Zero target. We’re delighted to be part of this ground-breaking team with our hybrid solution alongside Chiltern Railways and Porterbrook.”
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