Converting Adelaide Metro into Australia’s first-ever diesel-hybrid train fleet

Converting Adelaide Metro into Australia’s first-ever diesel-hybrid train fleet

ABB traction battery technology has enabled 44 Adelaide Metro train sets to be converted to diesel-hybrid operation, with a further 6 sets to be converted in the coming months. The solution has reduced noise and emissions to improve the travel experience for the nearly 16 million commuters a year who use the service.

South Australia’s Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) approached ABB Australia in 2022 to make Adelaide Metro’s 50 trainsets more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The aim was to reduce diesel engine noise and exhaust fumes to improve the transit experience of the near 16 million commuters a year who rely on the service.

To deliver on this mandate, ABB has already converted 44 of the train sets and will convert another 6, to create Australia’s first diesel-hybrid fleet capable of switching seamlessly between operating on diesel power or battery-electric power. The project included the installation of innovative BORDLINE® lithium-ion based onboard traction batteries, traction integration modules, and energy management systems, enabling significant savings in energy consumption.

A previous upgrade project to equip the Class 3000 vehicles with ABB propulsion systems had already yielded a fuel consumption reduction of approximately 20%. From now on, the complete system, including the newly installed traction batteries, is delivering a total energy efficiency improvement of up to 35%.

Reflecting on the operational benefits of the conversion, Reece Balschek, Head of Drivers at Keolis Downer, Australia’s largest light rail operator, explains:

“The system works with geofencing technology, so as the train pulls into Adelaide railway station, the diesel engines automatically switch to battery power only. This ensures a quieter and smoother arrival for passengers and railway workers in the covered station area with reduced noise pollution and diesel fumes, creating a more pleasant environment.”

ABB’s high efficiency, flexible, and modular traction systems played a key role in enabling the integration of the traction battery without requiring significant modifications to the existing setup. The newly implemented system effectively converts and stores kinetic energy generated during braking, resulting in higher system reliability and substantial reductions in fuel consumption and train servicing costs. The savings in fuel costs combined with the savings from the extended maintenance intervals pay for the cost of the battery system.

Each newly upgraded train will deliver a CO2 reduction in emissions of 54 tons annually, while DIT will gain significant savings in fuel and maintenance costs. While the upgrade enhances operational and environmental performance by reducing diesel engine noise and emissions, “Its impact goes beyond that,” adds Ali Parvizi, General Manager, Traction – Australia and New Zealand at ABB, “as it also greatly improves the overall passenger experience.”

The successful completion of the project marks another significant milestone in ABB’s history, reaffirming its commitment to offering cost-effective and innovative solutions for a sustainable future in transportation worldwide.


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