Railway operators agree that energy consumption is one of the key environmental factors, together with the related emissions/air quality and noise. There are strong incentives on the part of the sector to reduce energy consumption so as to reduce life cycle costs and to maintain and enhance railways' image as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. All the stakeholders in the sector are interested to secure economic viability of the railway systems and its competitiveness vis-à-vis other modes.
Energy costs are becoming a principal cost driver for railway operators due to the rising energy prices in the latest years and it is becoming a question of economic survival to bring these costs down, at least in relative terms. The three largest European railway networks are spending up to €1.75 billion per year on energy.
Freight customers are mostly concerned with the unit prices especially for the 'high-volume/low-value' rail transport market whereas passengers using trains today besides the cost of the ticket are increasingly demanding comfort and overall attractiveness of trains. While trying to meet their customers' expectations railways have to address issues that arise as a consequence of more comfort functions, such as growing energy consumption. It will be very important in the coming years to ensure a sustainable compromise between the need to continue increasing the attractiveness of trains for the passengers on the one hand and the need to prevent an uncontrollable growth of energy consumption on the other hand.
There is a significant unrealised potential for energy savings in European railways that would enable railway operators to boost their cost efficiency in today's competitive environment, and the rail sector as a whole to honour its commitment to sustainable development.
The overall objective of Railenergy is to cut the energy consumption by developing a holistic framework approach, new concepts and integrated technical and technological solutions to improve energy efficiency. The holistic approach is at the heart of the project, creating the spirit for the proper integration and synergies of the combined results.
Railenergy will address the problem of energy efficiency within an optimised railway system thus contributing to a reduction in the life cycle costs of railway operation and of CO2 emissions per seat/kilometre or tonne/kilometre. The project target is to achieve a 6% reduction in the specific energy consumption of the rail system by 2020, assuming that traffic volumes double in comparison with current figures.
The inter-relationship of railway sub-systems is highly complex, especially with regard to assessing their consumption of energy. Therefore, a fully integrated approach is the only way to achieve true energy savings. The special feature of the Railenergy IP is the holistic approach to energy efficiency. No technical or operational measure is better than its global contribution to the system efficiency. In order to achieve this, a Global Model was developed to simulate the energy losses in the railway system. The model was based on a 'plug & play' principle for each component or operational pattern:
- Open architecture for the whole sector;
- Ability to break a global target into manageable units;
- Help select the best combination of solutions for energy cost saving (during design, procurement and operation phases);
- Specific modules to assess the contribution of any new technical solution developed within Railenergy;
- The ability to convert all test or simulation results into a common unit for measurement of Life Cycle Cost
- Support investment decisions;
- 'WHAT-IF' function to accommodate new technology options and different load profiles.
Railenergy serves as a platform for an integrated development of new methodologies, techniques and technologies. Within this system framework approach the outputs of the Railenergy project are:
- Relevant baseline energy consumption figures and scenarios for selected reference systems;
- System-based concept for modelling energy consumption;
- Common and standardised methodology to determine energy consumption by rail sub-systems and components in the development and procurement phases (TecRec 100_001);
- Integrated railway energy efficiency Calculator & decision support tool;
- Strategic energy efficiency recommendations for rolling stock, infrastructure and traffic management;
- New validated energy efficiency-oriented railway technologies for trackside and on-board sub-systems and equipment, developed in compliance with the new integrated approach;
- Refined best practices for Railway Operators and Infrastructure Managers;
- Incentives framework.
The final outcome of the Railenergy project confirms that an average relative energy saving of more than 7% can be reached.
The Railenergy project gives the following recommendations to the railway sector within the field of system wide energy efficiency:
In procurement and leasing projects the energy performance of new rolling stock should be predicted and validated by using the UIC/UNIFE TecRec 100_001 developed by Railenergy.
Operational measures – in-service as well as out of service – are always the first and most important to implement as all investigations point towards high savings at relatively low costs compared to technology measures:
- Eco driving (levels 1 and 2, see technology description for details) is highly promising, for all types of power supply. It has a saving potential between 5% and 15% depending on the actual operational regime and on the level of sophistication of the introduced system.
- Energy efficient traffic management (eco-driving level 3) will allow significant reductions in energy consumption in the railway system (between 10% and 20%). The implementation of such systems requires a high degree of cooperation between the different stakeholders - infrastructure managers, train operating companies, rolling stock and signalling equipment manufacturers and standardisation bodies and safety authorities. The needed joint effort goes clearly beyond the 'business as usua
The Railenergy Decision Support Tool (DST) – or: Railenergy Calculator – is a web-based calculator developed within Railenergy using the technical, economic and strategic results of the project. It is designed to support management decisions regarding the implementation of new technologies or operational measures in terms of their energy, CO2 and economic performance.
The calculator incorporates the main results of the Railenergy project and makes them available and usable to potential interested users. Information and data from the technology developing sub-projects feeds into the calculations of energy saving potentials coming from technologies and operational measures. These information is connected to other operational and economic data to give a result on potential overall energy (and CO2) savings as well as expected impacts on investment costs.
The Railenergy knowledge base is a structured collection of all relevant results of the Railenergy project covering the results of the technical sub-projects as well as the results of the sub-project on energy efficiency management and including all results generated during the integration process such as economic and strategic assessment of energy efficiency technologies.
The Railenergy Website is the easy to access and easy to use online version of the Railenergy knowledge base (www.railenergy.eu). The website also includes the online version of the Railenergy Decision Support Tool (DST) – the Railenergy Calculator. The architecture of the website is in accordance with the structure of the knowledge base.
TecRec 100_001 'Specification and verification of energy consumption for railway rolling stock'
One of the most important outcomes is the contribution to the European standardization processes, for instances the elaboration of joint UIC/UNIFE Technical Recommendations. A Technical Recommendation (TecRec) is a UIC/UNIFE standard of which the primary field of application will be the European rolling stock domain and its interfaces with other subsystems.
The general purpose of this Technical Recommendation is to provide a comparative framework to evaluate energy performance values for train sets or locomotives on a common basis, thereby benchmarking and improving the energy efficiency of all types of rail vehicles.
In order to stay economically competitive and act socially responsible towards the environment, railways must increase their energy efficiency – not the least to enjoy a continued strong political support. Three main reasons for the railway sector to act now are:
- Rising energy costs
The European railway networks are spending billions of Euros annually on energy and the energy costs have increased significantly over the last few years (more than 10% per year). The continued increase in oil prices to a level of 100 $ per barrel underlines the necessity for improved energy efficiency, also because the electricity prices are highly influenced by the prices on coal, crude oil and gas.
- Energy security
Energy security is getting still more important. More and more countries want to be independent of foreign energy supplies. Also for the railways, reducing the energy demand will reduce this risk. In addition, with improved energy efficiency the railways in some cases could be able to accommodate more traffic growth before reaching the technical limits of the electric infrastructure e.g. maximum power feed etc.
- Climate protection
Climate change has become a strategic cornerstone for the railways. Railways are fortunate to run 80% on electricity in Europe but it is not possible for all industrial electricity consumers to switch to renewable energy sources at once. Therefore improved energy efficiency is vital when the railways want to achieve their individual CO2 targets.
- Rising energy costs