eTrain: Canberra Hybrid Fast Train to Sydney Airport


  1. Introduction
  2. Use Transit Lane
  3. Hybrid Fast Train to Sydney Airport

    See Also

  4. Canberra's centenary in 2013
  5. Other Transport Technology
  6. Home


Tilt Train from Sydney to Canberra 1995

In 2005 the Australian Capital Territory Government asked for ideas on how to celebrate Canberra's centenary in 2013. The Canberra Hybrid Fast Train to Sydney Airport is one suggestion. It proposes investigating the construction of a renewable energy powered transit system to Canberra. The passenger rail service from Canberra to Sydney would be improved by 2013, making use of upgrades to the line underway for freight. A conference in Canberra in 2013 would look at future options for modest investments to upgrade the service with hybrid fast trains using new technology.

Federal, state and ACT Governments has investigated Very Fast Train options, but not been implemented. The cost and limited number of passengers on the route have not made this feasible. Lower speed fast trains have been tested but not adopted.

Use Transit Lane

$192M is being spent on a new rail line through Sydney in the next five years. This line will be available for diesel passenger trains from Canberra. The separate line will bypass the bottleneck of the Sydney metro trains and operate a faster and more reliable service.

... ARTC has agreed to invest $A 192 million over the next five years to build a new access line for freight trains through the southwestern Sydney suburbs. Freight and passenger trains currently share the existing electrified track through the Sydney metropolitan area. Passenger trains are given priority during peak commuter periods which results in significant delays for freight. It is the biggest impediment to railfreight activity between Melbourne and Brisbane.

ARTC will construct a new line following the existing route from Macarthur to Sefton Park Junction in Sydney's southwestern suburbs. Construction of the line has the potential to benefit Sydney commuters as well as freight train operations. It will free up enough capacity on the electrified track to operate an extra 36 commuter trains a day. Diesel commuter trains from the Southern Highlands will also be able to use the new line as well as the XPT passenger services to southern NSW and Melbourne.

From:ARTC Alliance Contracts for Australia's East Coast Railways, Ian Hammond, International Railway Journal, February 2006.

It is proposed the ACT Government fund a study of changes needed to allow the new track to be used by 2013 with existing XPT and XPLORER services. This would have environmental benefits in reducing car and plane trips. The existing trains could be refurbished, as is being done in the UK.

Put Train On-line

A new web site and podcast travelogue and interactive map would be provided to promote the journey and for tourists to use on the train (a travelogue from London to Paris by Train has proven very popular on the Tomw Communications web site).

Hybrid Fast Train to Sydney Airport

Companies and researchers in the rail transport industry would be invited to Canberra in 2013 to celebrate the new service and discuss new technologies for this route and for the developing world. Hybrid diesel/battery trains such as Japan Rail East's Kiha E200 would be looked at. Steam turbine cogeneration operating from the waste heat of the diesel engine would also be investigated. This would use a similar principle to BMW's TurboSteamer car, but using a mechanically simpler system generating electricity from waste heat rather than powering the train directly. Use of biodesil and other carbon neutral fuels and Australian solar technology would be investigated.

A new hybrid train for Canberra to Sydney would be routed via the new freight line to the existing Sydney Airport line. This would allow domestic and international passengers to travel to and from Canberra using the already built but underutilized stations and track under the airport. This would have environmental benefits reducing aircraft pollution and also free up the airport for more international and longer distance interstate flights.

UK/Japan hybrid High Speed Train

Update: October 2006

The Australian XPT trains are based on the UK High Speed Train (HST). Hitachi have announced a battery-assisted diesel electric modification of the High Speed Train (HST) for the UK. This could be adapted for Australian XPTs:

Series-hybrid configuration

Hitachi Hybrid Traction System

Hitachi Europe Ltd. today announced the launch of technology that will create Europe's first hybrid high speed train. The technology has been proven under test in Japan to cut fuel bills by up to 20% and harmful emissions by up to 50%. The test train includes a new hybrid traction system (consisting of a battery-assisted diesel electric traction drive) which will be installed into an existing High Speed Train (HST), with the equipment fitted into the front Power Car and a modified Trailer Car. The technology has been developed and tested in Japan since 2003 and is currently in production for a Japanese customer.

Hitachi and its partners Porterbrook Leasing, Network Rail and Brush Traction are aiming to commence trial running of the modified train in April 2007 and on completion of testing the modified train will run in service on the New Measurement Train for a period of six months to prove the benefits of the technology.

Alistair Dormer, General Manager Hitachi Rail Group, commented:

"Long term sustainability is a key requirement for future transportation systems and Hitachi is delighted to be playing a part in developing this new hybrid traction system, which will in time demonstrate significant benefits in reducing the environmental impact of train travel and reducing fuel bills". ...

From: Hitachi Announces Launch Of First Energy-saving Hybrid High Speed Train In Europe, Hitatchi Europe Ltd, 12 October 2006

The Hitachi Hybrid Traction System, is based on power supplied by a combination of a high efficiency diesel engine generator and the new, high energy, high density lithium-ion battery ... The system works by using the battery to either supply extra power on top of the engine generation when required during high acceleration, or absorbing the surplus power from the engine when coasting. Regenerative braking is employed, with the battery capable of absorbing the high density energy generation. The technology also means that the engine can be switched off at stations reducing noise and pollution experienced by travelling passengers and station staff.

From: Hybrid Traction System - New Energy Train, Paul Cooper, Hitachi Rail, Institution of Engineering and Technology Seminar, September 2006

Part of a Transport Strategy

The hybrid train could be part of an integrated transport strategy with high technology electric highways and heritage trams.

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