Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 10:48 UK

Trains cut engines to save fuel

Generic first TransPennine Express
The trains will switch off an engine on certain sections to save fuel

A train company running services over the Pennines has told its drivers to shut off engines on downhill sections to save money.

The spiralling cost of fuel and need to cut carbon emissions prompted First Transpennine Express to pilot the idea - which it said had been a success.

The company said it was saving about 7% of its fuel consumption without compromising passenger comfort.

The multi-engined trains can shut any number of their units while running.

Nick Donovan, from First Transpennine Express, said: "The trains operate on one, two or three engines - but there's an electrical supply between the coaches which allows all the control and passenger comfort systems to be maintained even if an engine is shut down."

Satellite systems

The company's fleet manager Paul Staples added: "The train detects where it is using an on-board GPS system.

"It can also tell how a driver is actually driving and, if everything is OK, one engine will be switched off and the train, which normally runs on three engines, can run on two."

He said there was an override facility that enabled crews to re-engage the idle engine if either more power was needed or to catch up after a specific delay.

Drivers, however, are also being encouraged to be fuel conscious during the journeys.

"We're also training drivers to drive economically, something like using the equivalent of a light right foot rather than thrashing it," he added.

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