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Innovative Integrated Energy Efficiency Solutions for Railway Rolling Stock, Rail Infrastructure and Train Operation

The project plans to develop a holistic framework approach incorporating new concepts and integrated solutions to improve energy efficiency in the railway domain under specific technical, operational, political and socio-economic constraints.

Tags: Rail


There are strong incentives on the part of the railway sector to reduce energy consumption so as to reduce life-cycle costs and to maintain and enhance the railways’ image as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. Energy costs are becoming a principal cost driver for railway operators due to rising energy prices in recent years and it is becoming a question of economic survival to bring these costs down, at least in relative terms. Freight customers are mostly concerned with unit prices, especially for the ‘high-volume/low-value’ rail transport market, while passengers using trains today, apart from the cost of the ticket, are increasingly demanding greater comfort and overall attractiveness of trains. While trying to meet their customers’ expectations, railways have to address issues that arise as a consequence of other functions, such as growing energy consumption. While there are some best practices available in Europe in terms of operational and technical measures to improve energy efficiency, they certainly do not address the problem in a comprehensive manner as seen from a strategic and management point of view. There is a need to examine the question of energy consumption in railways in a more profound and complete way.


The overall objective of Railenergy is to cut energy consumption in the railway system, thus contributing to a reduction of life-cycle costs of railway operation and of CO2 emissions. The project target is to achieve a 6% reduction in specific energy consumption (e.g. energy consumption per seat/km or tons/km) of the rail system by 2020 by addressing different systems, subsystems and components of railways in an integrated way. The cumulative impact of the proposed innovative solutions will be assessed with the help of the global modelling tool to be developed within the project. The individual contributions of each subsystem and the relations among the subsystems in the energy consumption process will be clearly identified. The most promising solutions will be realised and tested. According to the results of the global modelling and testing, it will be demonstrated how one set of integrated solutions can contribute to reach the target of a 6% reduction below the anticipated energy consumption for 2020, given the target of a doubling in traffic intensity, as well as all the possible intermediate and longer term scenarios identified during the project.

Railenergy global model
Railenergy global model

Description of work

The ‘Railenergy global model’ is at the heart of this system approach and describes all energy flows in the railway system. This model is developed within the core subproject dealing with integrated energy efficiency management. The global model is unique in the sense that it is covering the following two important functionalities:

  • integrated decision support tool
  • plug and play principle

The following structure has been developed for project implementation:

  • NRG-Needs (Energy needs and key performance indicators definition)
  • NRG-Efficiency Management (Integrated energy management)
  • NRG-Trackside (Trackside energy improvements)
  • NRG-Components (Onboard innovative components)
  • NRG-Traction (Onboard innovative traction)
  • NRG-Topologies (Optimisation of electrical equipment topologies and operation)
  • Training and Dissemination (for dissemination purposes only)
  • Coordination


Railenergy could make a considerable contribution to the EU policy on sustainable development in three ways:

  • boosting the competitiveness of railway transport (due to a reduced life-cycle cost) and thus enabling modal shift from road to rail, which is one of the pillars of sustainable development policy
  • efficient use of scarce energy resources and subsequent contribution to improved security of energy supply
  • lower emissions of greenhouse gases (mainly CO2) and air pollutants thus helping to combat climate change.

The potential positive impact of reduced energy consumption is not limited only to the economic advantages for the railway sector itself. The environmental impact of the Railenergy project will be undoubtedly positive, contributing to reduced energy use (thus respecting the scarcity of the relevant natural resources) and lower emissions of air pollutants. By tackling the issue of energy efficiency, railways respond to the societal concerns about the security of energy supply and climate change. These concerns are at the heart of EU policy-making at present and railway stakeholders would contribute to addressing these issues by focusing joint efforts on reducing energy consumption in the entire railway system.

The structure of the Railenergy project
The structure of the Railenergy project