Department for Infrastructure and Transport in South Australia selects ABB for Australia’s first diesel-hybrid train fleet conversion

Department for Infrastructure and Transport in South Australia selects ABB for Australia’s first diesel-hybrid train fleet conversion

  • Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT), South Australia has ordered 44 sets of ABB’s BORDLINE® Energy Storage Systems (ESS), traction integration module, and energy management systems, in an Australian-first diesel-hybrid train set.
  • The lithium-ion based onboard energy storage system will be used in the upgrade of DIT’s passenger rolling stock trains in an Adelaide Metro project.
  • The technology will enable an energy efficiency upgrade of around 16% and reduce operational and system environmental impact by reducing diesel engine noise and smell to also improve passenger experience.
  • The system even can operate the train with the engine shut down, free of any emissions.
  • The class 3000 vehicles have already been upgraded with new ABB propulsion systems, achieving a fuel consumption reduction of around 20%. Now readily prepared for an ESS upgrade, following its implementation the entire system will result in a total energy efficiency improvement of up to 35%.  

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) works as part of the Government of South Australia to support their community by delivering effective planning policy, efficient transport, and valuable social and economic infrastructure.  DIT had been seeking a solution to improve passenger experience on their Adelaide Metro trains on which 15.6 million passengers travel annually.

For their enclosed stations, DIT sought to remove diesel engine noise and exhaust fumes on their trains and to upgrade their rolling stock fleet to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. They enlisted ABB Australia to understand options for increased energy efficiency of their systems.

ABB’s BORDLINE® Energy Storage Systems (ESS) were selected to upgrade the propulsion system of Adelaide Metro’s 44 train sets. The BORDLINE® ESS is a lithium-ion based onboard energy storage system that is characterised by its high safety level and achievable lifetime. It’s a system suitable for use in a range of traction applications and is designed to deliver high power for vehicles in harsh environments like mining vehicles, electric buses, marine, on/off-road vehicles, special purpose vehicles or industrial applications.

With this new system, the kinetic energy of the vehicle is converted into electrical energy during braking and stored in the onboard battery pack. The recovery of braking energy significantly improves the efficiency and reduces fuel consumption and overall carbon footprint.  The solution can allow rail transportation operators to experience up to 16% energy savings therefore reducing train service costs and inherently increasing the reliability of the system. Thanks to ABB’s high efficiency, flexible and modular traction systems, the ESS integration is enabled without any need for major changes in the existing system.

"Each train will deliver a C02 reduction in emissions of 54 tonnes per year, or 2400 tonnes annually for all 44 train sets combined."

This hybrid train fleet conversion is the first of its kind seen in Australia and New Zealand. It will also reduce mechanical braking therefore brake dust emissions which will minimise maintenance costs.  Slow speed operation can be achieved with the train’s engine turned off and it can be turned off completely whilst docked at the station.

As a result of this diesel engine and converter upgrade to implement an Energy Storage System, each train will deliver a C02 reduction in emissions of 54 tonnes per year, or 2400 tonnes annually for all 44 train sets combined.

  • Example of Adelaide Metro’s class 3000 diesel railcar, operated by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport in SA which will be undergoing the conversion to a hybrid operating system.

Pradip Savaliya, Product Manager for Traction Converters for ABB in Australia and New Zealand says, “the diesel hybrid solution we’ve developed for DIT will see the energy from regenerative braking used to charge the train’s battery which can be used in parallel with the diesel engine as a booster to save fuel and help the environment.

The additional capability of the battery means it can be used in replacement of the diesel engine when supplying auxiliary loads at the train platform to reduce noise output and air pollution.”

The entire propulsion system upgrade authorised by DIT also consists of new traction converters and energy management systems to broadly optimise each train’s traction performance.

Ali Parvizi, Traction Sales Manager for ABB in Australia and New Zealand says, “this upgrade maintains the current safety standards, improves passenger comfort and dramatically improves DIT’s sustainable mobility. ABB Australia is proud to be supporting this project in such a major way.”

Mike Briggs, Head of the Motion Business for ABB in Australia says, “this is a milestone project for the ABB Motion Traction business. Facilitating enhanced train performance with our battery technology is just one example of how we can contribute to addressing the climate crisis in a significant way, in keeping with our commitment to reduce CO2 emissions for ourselves, our customers, and society.

The introduction of our Energy Storage and Management Systems within Australia will ensure opportunities for employment in these emerging technology sectors. ABB is equally committed to the whole-of-life support for these designs, and we will be setting up a new service facility in Australia to support this project and all those ensuing.”

The DIT project upgrade is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2023.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 110,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.  


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