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JR East, Hitachi and Toyota to Develop Hybrid Railway Vehicles Powered by Hydrogen

JR East, Hitachi and Toyota have entered into an agreement to collaborate on development of test railway vehicles equipped with hybrid systems that use hydrogen powered fuel cells and storage batteries as their source of electricity. By collaborating to develop these test railway vehicles, they aim to further improve the environmental superiority of railways and realize a sustainable society. Hydrogen ensures minimal environmental impact as it does not emit any carbon dioxide when used as an energy source and it can be produced from various raw materials using renewable energy.

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As efforts are made throughout the world to create sustainable societies, the same is also true for the railway sector, a means of mass transport, where there is high anticipation for next-generation rolling stock that operates using clean energy, such as hydrogen.  The development of innovative rolling stock powered by hydrogen will therefore contribute to the development of a low-carbon society as it helps to curb global warming and diversify energy sources. Toyota will develop the fuel cell device and Hitachi will develop the hybrid drive system.

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The three companies will adapt the fuel cells used in automobiles for railway applications. Together, they will create hybrid (fuel cell) test vehicles with the aim of achieving the high-power output control necessary to drive railway vehicles, which are much larger than automobiles.