TESTING of the first French electric-diesel-battery hybrid train, converted by Alstom in partnership with French National Railways (SNCF), is due to commence soon on the country’s national network ahead of its entry into passenger service in 2023.

For the past eight months trials with the Coradia Polyvalent multiple unit have been conducted at Alstom’s Reichshoffen facility and the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic. The trains will operate on the French regional express (TER) networks.

The hybrid project also involves the Occitanie, Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Centre-Val-de-Loire Regions, with Occitanie suppling a train from its liO fleet.

The energy storage systems were tested at Alstom’s Tarbes site at the end of 2020, ahead of the dual-voltage train’s modification. Half of its roof-mounted diesel engines have been replaced with energy storage systems made up of lithium-ion batteries with a range of around 20km. Initial static and dynamic testing was conducted with the train reaching 60km/h before it moved to Velim where it reached speeds of 160km/h. All of the train’s traction modes were tested at that speed.

The batteries enable the shutdown of diesel engines during extended station stops and provide supplementary traction on low-voltage lines.

Alstom says the train has performed as expected and that regenerative braking showed savings of up to 20%.

Testing on the French national network will enable SNCF to obtain necessary authorisations for commercial operation. Trial passenger services are expected to commence in the second quarter of 2023, with trials in each of the partner regions.