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Ricardo and TRL to carry out study in UK to improve rail traction efficiency

Ricardo, supported by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), will carry out a study for the UK Department for Transport (DfT) with the aim of identifying and evaluating measures to improve the fuel-efficiency of diesel based traction on the country’s rail network.

Over the last decade the rail network in Great Britain has experienced rapid growth in passenger and freight services, and demand is expected to continue to rise over the foreseeable future. The situation makes the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies for diesel traction more important both in seeking to increase efficiency and hence reduce the cost base of the railway, while also helping to meet environmental challenges including the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, Ricardo notes.

The primary focus of Ricardo in the study will involve a review of existing diesel traction technologies in use on the railway and assessment of the current levels of efficiency achieved.

The review will run in parallel with work to evaluate the current state-of-the-art in terms of diesel efficiency in other sectors such as commercial vehicles and off-highway equipment. This will enable a direct like-for-like comparison to be drawn between rail and non-rail sectors, thus enabling the identification of possible improvements to both new and existing rolling stock that can be made in rail using existing, cost-effective and readily available technologies.

TRL will focus on an evaluation of efficiency improvement initiatives to date and identify, through stakeholder engagement and development of case studies, where these have been successful and where lessons can be learnt in terms of likely technical and operational incentives and obstacles.

Together the partners in the study aim to provide new insights for DfT in the potential future strategic direction of diesel traction on the rail network, with the intention of both improving energy efficiency and reducing operational costs.



GE has recently increased the efficiency of their locomotives by about 6% and much more could certainly be done with various hybridization and dual mode (diesel-electric) units that can operate as electric units and/or diesel units, making progressive electrification possible.

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