LATVIA: The prototype conversion of a ČME3 diesel shunting locomotive to dual-fuel gas operation has attracted international interest, with representatives of French gas supplier GRDF and the city of Lille recently visiting Riga to see the loco in action.
National railway LDz and Riga-based DiGAS launched the pilot project two years ago, and testing began last summer. LDz expects to make a decision about further commercial deployment this autumn.
The initial tests and calculations estimate that dual-fuel locomotives could provide annual savings of €31 800 each, excluding the cost of conversion, while halving the estimated financial impact of emissions.
‘LDz has something special we could study and draw inspiration from’, said Franck Dhersin, Hauts-de-France region’s Vice-President for Transport. With France planning to ban diesel vehicles by 2025, he said there is a need for alternative options which can be deployed quickly. Gas offers the advantage of not requiring investment in electrification.
LDZ President Edvīns Bērziņš said the pilot project had not been complicated, and conversion was expected to pay for itself in three or four years, as well as offering environment and public health benefits.
‘Although rail is considered to be one of the most environmentally-friendly means of transport, it is crucial for LDz to find ways to further reduce the company’s environmental impact’, he said. ‘The most significant project, which is to be implemented in the coming years, is electrification of the network. However, there are also smaller, but no less important projects, which may help us to be more environmentally friendly. Equipping shunting locomotives with dual drive mechanisms could be one such projects.’