East Japan Railway (JR) has just demonstrated the world’s first hydrogen hybrid commuter to awaiting eyes. This means that JR East has jumped ahead of Tokyo’s Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) in bringing a hydrogen railway train (hydrail) to market.
JR East’s New Energy Train (NE Train) has two 65kw PEM fuel cells and can travel up to 60 mph for approximately 60 miles. The New Energy Train uses regenerative braking, common to hybrid autos, in order to recharge the battery pack. In addition, the New Energy Train consumes 20-percent less fuel than traditional trains.
Much quieter than traditional diesel-powered locomotives, the New Energy Train will travel to more remote regions of Japan that do not have overhead power cables. The New Energy Train is meant to replace both electric trains and diesel locomotives, the company stated. The JR East New Energy Train is set to hit the rails for good in April 2007. JR East Railway is Japan’s largest locomotive operator autorying over 16 million passengers a day throughout Japan.
Look out, because light at the end of the tunnel may just be a hydrogen train. At least Japan is on the right track.