Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) and UK-based rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook have signed contracts to procure MTU Hybrid PowerPacks from Rolls-Royce.

The contract follows the initial memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was signed between the parties in September.

Rolls-Royce will supply nine MTU Hybrid PowerPacks to Irish Rail and four to Porterbrook.

The MTU Hybrid PowerPack is a drive system that combines the benefits of battery-powered and diesel-powered traction systems.

It includes an EU Stage V complaint MTU diesel engine, an electric unit that can function as a motor and a generator, and the MTU EnergyPack battery system.

“These first orders are a milestone as we transform the company from an engine and PowerPack manufacturer to a solution provider.”

The system, when implemented in a rail vehicle, results in operations with zero local emissions under battery power.

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Additionally, the installation of the system reduces traction noise, carbon dioxide emissions and operating costs.

Due to the power of the electric machine, train operators can reduce journey times through better acceleration.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems Rail Business head Jürgen Blassmann said: “We are proud to see the MTU Hybrid-PowerPack, which we’ve been pioneering for years, now establishing itself in the market as a leading-edge traction solution.

“These first orders are a milestone as we transform the company from an engine and PowerPack manufacturer to a solution provider offering tomorrow’s sustainable traction systems.”

The company will deliver the Hybrid PowerPacks between May next year and the end of 2021.

Irish Rail and Porterbrook may convert a significant section of their railway fleet to hybrid after the successful trials of this technology are completed.