Information published on 16 March 2010 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr .

Railenergy is working the switches for an energy efficient railway infrastructure

  • Rail System

With the Railenergy project slowly coming to an end after four years of research and development work, UIC has been intensifying its dissemination activities on this specific field. The dissemination of intermediate project results started in October 2008 with the first Railenergy workshop on Energy Efficient Management. Step by step UIC and the project partners gave an insight view into the first Railenergy results and the project’s achievements. The 7th Railenergy Workshop “Energy Efficient Infrastructure” in Paris on March 10th, 2010 was the follow-up event of a successful workshop about energy saving potentials in the electric traction infrastructure held in Florence in January 2009.

UIC’s Rail System Department Director Emilio Maestrini welcomed the participants to the workshop and explained the strategic orientation of the new Rail System Forum and underlined that energy and sustainability are crucial points. The approach towards innovative solutions should not be stuck in sector thinking but should come out of a holistic approach, addressing the overall railway system. He emphasised that UIC in future expects more exploitation of European projects in terms of standardisation. The first “Railenergy” TecRec (UIC/UNIFE Technical Recommendation for the “Specification and Verification of Energy Consumption for Railway Rolling Stock”) has been a good start and both associations expect the second TecRec “Specifications for reversible DC Substations” to become a result of the Railenergy project.

Luca Trinca, RFI co-leader of Railenergy’s working group “Energy Efficient Trackside” stated that the research & simulations phase is now completed and the team is about to finish its work and technical reporting.

One main outcome of the working group is the “Pilot project for Reversible DC Substation” presented by Daniel Cornic, Alstom Transport allowing the recovery of electrical braking energy, abandoning braking resistors on vehicles, controlling the output voltage to reduce losses and increase the regenerative braking voltage limits, further a better balancing of power between substations to avoid overloads and finally a significant reduction of harmonic content on upstream network.

Romain Lanselle, SNCF illustrated the “Improvement of energy balance of DC power systems and gave the example of 2x1500 V. It has been demonstrated in Railenergy that the twice 1.5 kV system increases the power available at the pantograph and the efficiency of the system.

“New System Architectures” including the Comparative Evaluation of Existing and Innovative System Architectures for DC and AC-Traction Power Supplies were presented by Martin Altmann, Siemens AG. He concluded that most of the AC-traction power supply systems are already very efficient (typical efficiency: 96 – 98%), therefore investments in infrastructure are only partly recommended. A first viable short term solution may be the application of contact line material with higher conductivity in parallel with the regular change of the contact line. It can be asserted that the most promising gains for energy efficiency mostly lie in improving the existing DC-traction power supply systems, with a typical percentage efficiency of 85 – 90%.

Finally, Christophe Cheron, SNCF gave a brief overview about the ERRAC Roadmap “Energy” showing how the other transport modes (e.g. automotive) have been undertaking research on alternative traction modes He summarised the most promising research activities and expressed the aim for a closer cooperation between the Railenergy partners and ERRAC.

At the end of the day the Joint Working Groups gave the participants the opportunity to discuss the Railenergy achievements in smaller groups as well as a possible implementation in their networks, respectively their railway operation. The railway community will and has to continue exploiting energy saving potentials in future in order to remain cost-efficient and competitive. The large scale European railway research project “Railenergy” is providing a good platform to do this work jointly with manufactures, railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and research institutes. Well aware of the fact that the Railenergy project will come to an end in autumn 2010 the participants of the workshop discussed a vision for energy saving potentials in the electric traction infrastructure in future and the time after the project.

The overall Railenergy project with the main highlights and achievements on the fields of rolling stock and infrastructure will be presented at the final conference in Brussels on November 25th, 2010.

For further information please contact Enno Wiebe wiebe@uic.org