East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Hitachi, and Toyota Motor have agreed to develop hybrid (fuel cell) railway vehicles powered by hydrogen.

The three companies have signed an agreement to collaborate to develop test railway vehicles by integrating railway and automotive technologies.

The vehicles will be equipped with hybrid systems that utilise hydrogen-powered fuel cells and storage batteries as their source of electricity.

Through the collaboration, the companies intend to further enhance the environmental superiority of railways and realise a sustainable society.

JR East will design and manufacture the train carriage, which will be known as Hybari. Toyota will develop the fuel cell device while the hybrid drive system will be developed by Hitachi.

In a statement, the companies said: “The hybrid drive system supplies the electric power to the traction motors from both the fuel cell device and the main circuit storage battery, controlling the movement of the wheels.”

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By GlobalData

The two-car test train is expected to run at the maximum speed of 100km/h with a driving range of up to 140km.

The three companies aim to commence testing the hydrogen-powered train, which will cost $38m, in March 2022 on the JR East Tsurumi Line and Nambu Line in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan.

JR East President Yuji Fukasawa said at a press conference: “We will aim at a commercial operation as our next step after reviewing the test.”

JR East provides rail transportation services in the Kanto and Tohoku regions, including Tokyo.