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.

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

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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.