East Japan Railways launches hybrid rail car

East Japan Railway Company (JR East) built a hybrid rail car for testing in May 2003. As favorable results were achieved, JR East have launched their Kiha E200 hybrid rail cars for commercial use.

Kiha E200

The Kiha E200 is equipped with a diesel engine, two electric motors under each of its cars and lithium ion batteries on the roof.

The diesel engine only kicks in when needed to climb a hill or if the batteries run low. The batteries are recharged when the train slows down. After the power is switched off, the motors continue to turn for a while, and that energy (wasted in a non-hybrid train) is used to recharge the batteries.

The Kiha E200, which seats 46 and can hold 117 passengers including people standing, is debuting on a line that runs about once an hour on a 79 km route through a mountain resort area.

Source: SMH, JR-East

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