Natural gas fueled railcar pilot project planned in Italy

April 5, 2019. A memorandum of understanding setting out plans to test the conversion of diesel railcars to run on natural gas has been signed by national railway FS Group, rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail Italy and gas supply infrastructure company Snam.

Trenitalia plans to provide one or two ALn668 or ALn663 railcars and associated workshop facilities for the pilot project, which would be used to assess the feasibility of a larger scale conversion programme. The trials would be undertaken on routes popular with tourists.

FS envisages that the use of gas could ‘substantially eliminate’ particulate emissions and reduce CO2 emissions by around 20%. The use of gas instead of diesel to power 100 railcars is predicted to reduce fuel costs by €2-5m/year, the operator said.

‘Liquefied natural gas and, in the near future, liquefied biomethane have great prospects for rail transport as well as for road and sea transport, thanks to their environmental advantages and low costs’, said Snam CEO Marco Alverà when the MoU was signed on March 28.

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