Hybrid train to debut for commercial service in Japan

The first hybrid train will be put into commercial service by a Japanese railway company next month, company official said Thursday.

The train will be powered by a diesel engine and electric battery that gets recharged by energy created from braking at curves and when entering stations, East Japan Railway spokesman Shinichi Harada said.

Although gas-and-electric hybrid automobiles are already touted as a way to fight global warming, the JR East's hybrid train is the first of its kind in the world, Harada said.

The train, called Kiha E200, developed by East Japan Railway Co., will debut on the Koumi Line in central Japan on July 31.

The new technology helps reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter by up to 60 percent, compared to conventional trains, Harada said.

It cuts fuel consumption by up to 20 percent, and also runs more quietly.

"It is our responsibility to help reduce global warming by running environmentally friendly means of transportation," Harada said.

Harada said JR East, as the company is also known, study the train's performance on the 78.9-kilometer (48.9 mile) Koumi Line, which passes through mountain resorts, before deciding to whether to mass produce the hybrid train cars.