While we seek to expand electrified rail travel as an environmentally friendly way of transportation, we often face significant costs when developing a project:
When it comes to infrastructure construction, an electrification of a line can make up to a 30% of the costs. Looking at maintenance, a similar picture emerges. On the other hand, diesel powered vehicles have higher operations costs and exhaust various gases from CO2 to NOx which authorities seek to reduce, especially in dense urban areas. This is why academia and the industry together with the authorities have been seeking alternative power supplies.
Besides hybrid trains, most initiatives where limited so far on in-city transportation, focusing on LRVs (e.g. Primove) or Bus. This is why this article on IRJ is interesting: Schlieswig Holstein requests now in a tender to submit a proposal for a fleet of electric trains on an non-electrified line. The 52 trains is certainly a large enough batch to allow investment in a battery or super-cap solution for potential suppliers.
If the project is successful, it can emerge as a blue print for many other projects across Germany. As over 60% of the rail lines in the country are not electrified, this could, over time, significantly reduce diesel consumption. Still, with product life times of 30+years, it will take some time to replace any given/installed technology.