In 2016, DB Cargo started a joint project with Toshiba and Henschel named the Hybrid Electro-Mechanical Shunter (HELMS). Two prototypes based on Class V90 diesel shunters were made. Most recently, they have been spotted on tests.
Railcolor News thanks Niklas Kuhrmeier for contributing to this article with his great photographs.
With over 350 Class V90 shunters in the fleet, the project to improve the life cycle and reduce fuel costs makes economic sense besides the ecological one (which makes it a part of the bigger ‘Das ist Grün’ campaign by the operator). That does not mean it is a hiccup-free project.
One of the consortium partners, company Henschel, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and was later acquired by TS Group. The original plan was to finalize the project in 2017. Yet it was the T&L exhibition in 2019 during which the first prototype locomotive 1094 001 (ex 294 789) was showcased.
Thanks to Niklas Kuhrmeier and eisenbahn.4life profile on Instagram, we have a fresh update: The locomotive is undergoing tests now. With two measuring railcars and another V90 locomotive, the HELMS prototype loco was seen on the Augsburg – Donauworth line on 21.4.2020, subjected to tests by DB Systemtechnik, one of the partners in the project, as captured near Gablingen: