SPAIN: National operator RENFE is to conduct a trial of liquefied natural gas as a fuel for rail traction, in conjunction with suppliers Gas Natural Fenosa and Enagás, the Institut Cerdà research organisation, specialist rolling stock workshop ARMF and Bureau Veritas.

One of the two diesel engines in a 1 000 mm gauge two-car Class 2600 DMU is to be replaced with an LNG engine, to enable a direct comparison between diesel and LNG traction. The modified DMU will operate over a 20 km section of the former FEVE network between Trubia and Figaredo in the Asturias region of northern Spain.

As well as enabling RENFE to assess the reduction in emissions and cost savings that LNG is expected to offer as a potential alternative to electrification, the trial should enable the operator to determine technical implications such as the need for refrigerated fuel storage facilities.

RENFE is currently working towards a target of reducing its emissions to below 20 g of CO2 per passenger-km by 2020. At present 32% of traction is diesel, compared to 41% in 1990.