Within the next ten years, The Hungarian State Railways (MÁV-Start) plans the replacement of the recently used BZ-Mot diesel-powered railway trains – which have been running since the 1970s – for the most modern zero-emission vehicles.
As the Hungarian news portal Origo reports, these will be powered by a pantograph on the overhead lines and by an internal battery on the non-electrified sections.
As the railway company writes in its announcement, basically two types of vehicles can be diversified in the case of double-acting multiple units.
- diesel-electric and electric overhead line hybrid multiple units;
- hybrid electric multiple units with zero emissions (pollutants), which may be either battery and overhead electric trains, or, e.g. hydrogen-powered (fuel cell) vehicles.
Of these, MÁV-Start intends to procure battery-powered double-acting electric vehicles.
This technology is a novelty worldwide, and over the next ten years, the goal is for these low-end vehicles to serve passengers on low-traffic extension lines instead of the current diesel-powered trains.
MÁV-Start has launched a European Union public procedure for the procurement of twenty 200-seats and thirty 150-seats new, zero-emission hybrid electric motor trains. The 200-seat vehicles are scheduled to arrive in 2023-2024, while the 150-seat trains will probably get to Hungary between 2024 and 2029.
The hybrid vehicle is a technically innovative solution not only in Hungary but in Europe as well. Up to now, only the German province of Schleswig-Holstein decided to purchase 55 Stadler Flirt Akku motor trains last autumn.
The vehicles are equipped with modern passenger comfort; they are quiet, air-conditioned, equipped with electrical outlets and USB connectors.
Just like in the case of electric vehicles, the length of a single charge is critical for electric trainsets. It needs to be heated from a battery in the winter and cooled in the summer, and these might be challenging for the cells.
Despite the drawbacks, current diesel-powered vehicles cannot be used for a long time due to the strict carbon regulations. Even now, only those diesel engines are permitted on the market that meet the so-called Stage V emission limits, but manufacturers do not yet offer vehicles that do so.
Even though, the old motor trains, railcars and locomotives that are already running may remain for the time being; still, the International Railway Association plans to require zero-emission operation for its members by 2050.