Marylebone Station is London’s only all-diesel station. Both residents and local Councillors have been actively lobbying Chiltern Railways to reduce diesel pollution. Various short-term fixes have been explored, such as using modified - or cleaner - diesel, air filters for high-risk buildings, cutting back on engine-idling, and placing barriers between diesel engines and people. Overhead electric cables are not an option because of the low bridges. The long-term solution must be to eliminate the use of diesel engines in densely-populated areas.
We are delighted that Chiltern is trialling a local-service train (a Class 168 Diesel Multiple Unit) with a retrofitted electric-hybrid engine. Excess-power generated when the train is running along the line will charge a battery which will then be used to power the train as it enters a station. This could cut pollution and fuel by 25% for each complete journey. Battery-running would offer an even bigger reduction in noise and diesel pollution in and around Marylebone Station.
If the trial is a success, Chiltern may roll out more of the converted “Class 165 HyDrive” trains in late 2019. Note, though, that there is no plan to extend the technology to the longer-distance, ‘Silver’ diesel trains used for Intercity services in the current franchise (Class 68 locomotives).