Italy: In March, Florence hosted a presentation of the Hitachi Blues train head car mock-up. The first Blues with hybrid traction (diesel, catenary and batteries) should be delivered to the Tuscany region by the end of 2022, with entry into service scheduled for 2023. The vehicles are produced at the Hitachi Rail Italy factories in Pistoia, Naples and Reggio di Calabria.
The Blues hybrid trains were designed on the basis of the Hitachi Caravaggio platform specifically for participation in the tender announced by Trenitalia in 2017. The operator expected to purchase up to 135 three- and four-car DMUs for a total value of €958.5 mln. In 2018, Hitachi Rail won the tender, leaving out Stadler Rail and Alstom. The agreement reached on a firm order involved the delivery of 43 trains for operation in such Italian regions as Sardinia (8 trains), Sicily (17 trains), Val d’Aosta (4 trains), Lazio (3 trains) and Tuscany (11 trains).
However, the contract was put on hold until 2020 due to appeals brought by other bidders who accused Trenitalia of being biased against Hitachi. According to Trenitalia, the winner was chosen based on the most cost-effective proposal. Possibly another factor in Hitachi Rail’s victory could be its offer to deliver a train with hybrid traction, which should cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in half compared to diesel trains operated in Italy.
Mock-up of the Hitachi Blues hybrid train’s head car in Reggio Calabria. Source: Hitachi Rail
Blues trains can reach a maximum speed of 160 km/h with an acceleration of 1.1 m/s2. The new train’s diesel engine meets Stage V emission standards. Hitachi also emphasises that 93% of the train’s components are recyclable. The order was supported by European Investment Bank (EIB), which in summer 2020 provided Trenitalia with €450 mln EUR funding.
Depending on the composition, trains received HTR.312 (three-car) and HTR.412 (four-car) designations. HTR.312 with a length of 66.8 m can accommodate 224 passengers, while HTR.412 with a length of 86 m can accommodate 306 passengers. Separately, it is emphasised that the placement of all traction components on the roof of the train made it possible to increase passenger capacity. In addition, it is reported that the train will be equipped with intelligent air conditioning systems that optimise electricity consumption depending on the number of people currently in the car.
At the beginning of April, the mock-up of the Blues head car was transported from Florence to Reggio di Calabria. In total, as part of the presentation tour, it will be exhibited in the main squares of Palermo, Catania, Cagliari, Trieste and Rome.