Monday 22 November 2010
Research / Energy

Railenergy – Working the switches for an energy efficient future

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Railenergy, the collaborative European rail research project on energy efficiency, concludes with the Final Conference.

On 25 November the Royal Flemish Academy provided an excellent framework for the Railenergy Final Conference, bringing together more than 130 participants. The Railenergy coordinator, Judit Sandor (UNIFE), and her UIC counterpart Enno Wiebe, succeeded in inviting this broad audience comprising representatives from the European Commission, all major European train operating companies, infrastructure managers as well as the European rail manufacturers.

Today, after four years of collaborative rail research, 27 European partners are delivering a large number of recommendations and a catalogue of technologies for a more energy-efficient railway sector. Railenergy promises to help save 6% of the total energy consumption in the sector – a figure that does not seem high at first glance, but in concrete terms 6% of a big European railway operator’s annual energy bill amounts to nearly 6,000,000 Euros. Huge saving potentials are to be exploited and Railenergy now delivers the key.

When the project was launched, the energy topic was not a priority on the political agenda. The consortium had a visionary idea of holistically improving the energy efficiency of the railway system. They aimed to maintain the sector’s competitive advantages in relation to the other modes of transport and to ensure efficient and cost-effective movement of mass by reducing the specific energy in operation. The consortium therefore published a catalogue of energy saving methods and technologies including, among others, energy efficient driving and reversible direct current substations.

UNIFE’s General Manager Eric Fontanel was proud to highlight the first joint UIC/UNIFE Technical Recommendation on “Specification and verification of energy consumption for railway rolling stock” as one of the major outcomes of the Railenergy project. This voluntary standard has enabled UIC and UNIFE to add a new brick to the edifice of European standardisation and provide operators and manufacturers with a common language in the procurement process.

Emilio Maestrini, UIC Rail System Department Director and acknowledged former director of Trenitalia’s Rolling Stock department, presented the Railenergy calculator which supports decision-makers in assessing the various energy efficiency strategies. This tool, integrating the knowledge gathered by the entire railway community within Railenergy, is available publicly at:

A strong message towards the political sector was delivered – energy efficiency potentials need to be well examined and must be fully exploited. Railenergy is a key milestone in achieving a globally energy-efficient railway system. During the conference operators and manufacturers agreed that the tasks of exploiting energy saving potentials must be incorporated into business from the early stage of designing rolling stock via procurement to operation and retrofitting the fleet. Energy prices will not stop increasing in the future and the railway sector will carry on with its joint efforts to become more efficient in order to stay competitive and to continuously improve its sustainability performance.

For more information please contact Enno Wiebe:

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The audience
From left to right: Emilio Maestrini, UIC Director of the Rail system department, Eric Fontanel, UNIFE General Manager, Elodie Bonnin, SNCF and Valerio Recagno, D'Apollonia
Enno Wiebe, UIC Project coordinator and Judit Sandor, UNIFE, Railenergy Project coordinator