The Blues train is the first tri-mode battery hybrid train in passenger service in Europe. Credit: Hitachi Rail Limited.
The Blues train started operations in Sicily, Italy, in December 2022. Credit: Hitachi Rail Limited.
The Blues train was unveiled at the InnoTrans exhibition in Berlin, Germany, in September 2022. Credit: Messe Berlin GmbH.

The Blues train is an innovative, sustainable, hybrid train built by Hitachi Rail, a global provider of rail solutions and a subsidiary of Hitachi.

The hybrid train was built for the Italian train operator Trenitalia to modernise its fleet and revolutionise the regional rail system in the country.

The Blues train was launched at InnoTrans, an international trade exhibition for transport technology held in Berlin, Germany, in September 2022. It entered passenger service with Trenitalia in Sicily, Italy, in December 2022, becoming the first ever tri-mode (battery, electric, and diesel power) train to enter passenger service in Europe.

The Blues train is also expected to begin service in the Italian regions of Lazio, Tuscany, Calabria, and Friuli Venezia-Giulia in 2023.

The tri-mode Blues trains are manufactured at Hitachi’s factories located in Naples and Pistoia, Italy.

Blues train design and features

The Blues train is designed based on Hitachi’s Masaccio train. It can operate seamlessly on electrified and non-electrified lines.

The Blues train offers a distinctive and improved design by incorporating Italian and Japanese technologies. It includes large windows and spaces to accommodate bicycles and luggage. The train also provides space entirely dedicated to children and families.

The design provides environment-friendly and comfortable rail transit to families and leisure travellers, as well as regular commuters.

The train can be operated in three-car and four-car configurations. The length varies between 66.88m and 86.08m, depending on the configuration. The number of seats in the three and four-car arrangements are 224 and 306, respectively.

The train can travel at a top speed of 160km/h, with an acceleration of 1.1m/s².

Blues train hybrid technology details

The Blues train uses hybrid technology to power its operations. It receives electricity from the overhead lines using pantographs on electrified lines while a combination of diesel power and battery power is used on non-electrified lines. The train is equipped with new-generation, low-emission diesel engines that comply with European Stage V emissions standards.

The train switches to complete battery power while approaching, stopping at, and departing the stations to cut down fuel consumption and noise emissions.

Blues train signalling

The European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) is installed in the train to provide train control and signalling. The system regulates the train’s speed, acceleration, and braking system, thereby reducing emissions.

The ERTMS enables train safety functions to be automatically activated in the event of emergencies, or when trains exceed the line speed of the track. The Blues train will provide interoperability across Europe, since ERTMS is accepted as the European rail standard.

Onboard facilities on the Blues train

The Blues train is equipped with smart air-conditioning systems that adjust consumption based on the actual number of passengers onboard, and internal conditions such as temperature.

The universal serial bus (USB) and 220V power sockets fitted at multiple locations, and the Wi-Fi connection onboard, offer greater connectivity for the passengers.

The train is also installed with LED lighting systems that contribute to saving energy, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance for enhanced passenger safety. Other amenities include  24in passenger information screens, passenger counting technology, and a drinks and snacks dispenser area.

The platform level door access, which was designed in accordance with the technical specifications of interoperability developed in the European Union (EU) for persons with reduced mobility (TSI PMR), enables passengers in wheelchairs or those carrying large luggage or buggies to easily board and exit the train. Additionally, the trains are equipped with a dedicated area and restroom for passengers with limited mobility.

Blues train sustainability

The Blues train’s tri-mode hybrid technology is estimated to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption by 50%, when compared to the existing diesel-powered trains.

The train is built using materials that have 93% recyclability and 96% recoverability. The sustainable Blues train is also accredited with the Environmental Product Declaration.

Orders and deliveries

Hitachi Rail received an order worth €1.2bn ($1.19bn) from Trenitalia to supply up to 135 Blues trains in three- and four-car configurations.

The trains are intended to operate in Tuscany, Lazio, Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Valle d’Aosta, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.