November 15, 2019. Operail, an international logistics and transportation company, has entered into a cooperation agreement with the Latvian company DiGas to develop the first cargo-carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) freight locomotive in the region.
Previously, the gas technology has been tested and used on shunting locomotives. Adding the LNG system to freight locomotives is a landmark event in Baltic railway transportation and the railway sector in general. On average, an LNG locomotive uses 30% less fuel and emits 20% less carbon dioxide and 70% less sulphur dioxide.
“We are constantly looking for solutions that would be friendlier towards the environment. The first LNG freight locomotive is an excellent example of how the use of new technologies not only makes existing processes more efficient, but also helps to preserve the nature around us,” said Raul Toomsalu, Chairman of the Management Board of Operail. “Our cost calculations confirm that transporting one ton of goods on railways for 100 kilometers consumes a quarter of the fuel that transporting it on roads would. The implementation of LNG locomotives will increase that gap further.”
“We will invest a quarter million euros and begin the construction of a pilot locomotive so that after the testing period, we could implement the same technology on all of our freight locomotives,” said Toomsalu regarding Operail’s plans. “The production costs of the first locomotive are higher, but after that, the addition of LNG tanks and systems will be much more affordable. We also call upon other transportation and logistics companies to also look for more sustainable solutions.”
The reconstruction process of the American General Electric C36 locomotive involves dividing the 17,000-litre fuel tank in two – half for diesel fuel and half for LNG – and the addition of new systems. The information systems of an LNG locomotive store all information regarding fuel consumption and data analysis will allow further savings.
The first LNG locomotive should be completed next spring and tested in summer 2020. After obtaining the required approvals from Eesti Raudtee and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, the locomotive is planned to start operating in freight transportation in late 2020.