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New tracks in Den Bosch, source: ProRail

‘Energy efficiency is right path for Dutch rail sector’

The Dutch rail sector has achieved good results in energy saving policy for several last years. Only the passenger trains have reduced the energy consumption from 0.37 megajoules per passenger kilometres in 2013 to 0.28 megajoules per passenger kilometres in 2016. The sector needs more innovative and challenging methods to improve its energy efficiency, considers Eugenia Bonifazi, leading expert at Ricardo Energy and Environment. At the RailTech Europe conference in Utrecht, she will give a presentation on this topic.

“The Dutch rail sector is following the right path, however available data are limited, and it is not possible to provide a full picture,” Eugenia Bonifazi specified. She argues that the absence of all data is caused by the imperfection of the legal framework that does not support the collection of energy consumption data from the rail sector. “It can be considered the main failure in this area. There are not complete data sets for freight and urban rail operation, which makes difficult to provide a good overview, identify greater areas of improvement and develop KPIs,” the expert explained.

However, the legal base will be improved in a few years. The new European legislation (TSI’s) prescribes installation of energy meters in new trains from 2022. “This will improve the knowledge of the energy consumption of trains and will speed up the reduction measures if the operators use the output of energy meters not just for the right bill but also for determining reduction measures,” Eugenia Bonifazi said.

Challenges and innovations

The legislation is not the only challenge to the energy efficiency of the Dutch rail sector. “Regarding passenger trains, the main challenge to energy efficiency is to offer enough seats for the passengers while improving the energy consumption per passenger kilometre. This is one of the main KPI for energy efficiency in this industry, however, the number of available seats is a major KPI when customer satisfaction is considered,” the Ricardo’s expert noted.

Also, she advised undertaking a series of moves. According to her, the obligatory energy measuring will help to understand the energy use. For rail operators and rolling stock manufacturers, it means the train refurbishment from 2022. The second move is to develop KPIs to compare consumption and performance. The industry should continue to implement innovations like solar noise barriers, energy-generation within the system and even drones. “In recent years, infrared drones or helicopters have been used to spot the thermal signatures and identify malfunctioning,” she concluded.

Moreover, the Dutch rail sector should prevent or reduce energy losses in the system. “Therefore, the rail industry must find innovative and challenging methods to improve the energy efficiency by looking to improve timetables, deploy lighter trains, but also ensure that the energy consumed by rolling stock and network operation is monitored and metered. For example, point heater controls not operating correctly, might heat up sections of the track where there is not a risk of frozen points,” Eugenia Bonifazi specified.

Eugenia Bonifazi will give a presentation ‘How the Dutch rail sector must prepare for the application of the Energy Efficiency Directive after 2020?’ during the RailTech Europe conference. The programme can be found on the event website.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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