West Japan Railway (WJR) says that its days of developing and testing diesel-electric hybrid prototype trains will soon come to a halt. This isn't because WJR has lost faith in the hybrid train. Rather, WJR says that its development work is nearly complete and says that a practical version of its hybrid train will be ready for operation by 2015, according to the Nikkei (sub. req.).

WJR's hybrid train combines a diesel engine with lithium-ion storage batteries. Those batteries, which are recharged by energy produced when the train decelerates, are used to power the train's lights, climate control systems and other accessories. According to WJR, the diesel electric setup boosts fuel economy by approximately 13 percent.

Since 2009, WJR has been field testing prototypes of the diesel-electric train. The trials have verified the hybrid system's ability to reduce fuel consumption, convincing WJR to give the train the green light. The next step is to settle on critical design features, such as where to locate the batteries and whether or not to make the trains charge-by-wire capable.

[Source: Nikkei – sub. req. via Green Car Congress]

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