Since 2008, the rail freight market has not yet recovered from the global recession and profit margins in the railway sector have been falling throughout Europe. Moreover, competition was able to increase their capacity due to innovations. Within the last 15 years, inland vessels have increased their transport capacity by 158%, truck transportation by up to 50% while rail freight transportation only by 3% thanks to increasing the length of trains to 740 metres.
SHIFT²RAIL IP5 addresses this issue by fostering a vision for future rail freight operation offering increased quality and efficiency while simultaneously improving the overall cost structure. The target is to shift the road freight volumes for distances beyond 300 km to other modes in the range of 30% and 50% by the years 2030 and 2050 respectively. In this context, the FFL4E project (Future Freight Locomotive for Europe) aims at developing key technologies for future energy efficient freight locomotives, allowing highest operational flexibility and providing attractive and competitive rail freight services to the final customer.
Focus is set on:
- Extreme flexibility for operation in non-electrified and in electrified lines, allowing private and public operators to offer broaden rail freight services according to demand without the need of changing the locomotive.
- Remote control for distributed power, thus, allowing the increase of the train length up to 1500 m and consequently improving the cost efficiency of rail transport.
- Recuperation of braking energy as much as possible, store it onboard and reuse it whenever required, for traction purposes, for peak shaving or to supply auxiliaries and others.
- Last mile propulsion capabilities, sourcing the energy from a powerful on-board Li-Ion battery
- Reduction of wear and noise of freight operations by means of developing track-friendly, low-noise running gear for the future freight locomotive.