Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA (FS Italiane), Snam and Hitachi Rail Italy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which aims to convert part of the current FS Italiane train fleet from diesel to methane. The decision contributes to sustainable mobility developments in Italy and will enhance enjoyment of the country’s green tourism sector.
The agreement foresees the launch of a pilot project to convert one or two diesel-powered Fondazione FS Italiane railcars into more advanced liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) models. After a feasibility study, the companies will extend the scheme to a larger number of trains. The MOU was signed by the General Manager of the FS Italiane Foundation Luigi Cantamessa, the CEO of Snam Marco Alverà and the CEO of Hitachi Rail Italy Maurizio Manfellotto, in the presence of Gianfranco Battisti, CEO of FS Italiane.
Methane-converted trains will virtually eliminate particulate matter and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 20%. A possible replacement of 100 trains would also lead to savings of approximately 2.5 million euros per year on fuel costs.
Gianfranco Battisti, CEO of FS Italiane, said: “This Memorandum confirms the importance, for FS Italiane, of encouraging sustainable mobility starting from tourism. Tourism is growing at a very fast pace in Europe and Italy intercepts a large part of these flows.”
“Together with FS Italiane and Hitachi”, says Snam CEO, Marco Alverà, “we start also promoting sustainable natural gas mobility in Italy for trains. Liquefied natural gas and, in the near future, liquefied biomethane have huge potential to be used widely for rail transport in addition to road and maritime transport, thanks to significant environmental and economic benefits it brings. This initiative cements Italy’s position as the sector leader in Europe”.
The Memorandum is part of Snam’s commitment to sustainable mobility. In this regard, the company is investing to increase the number of distributors that supply natural gas to cars and trucks and to promote the development of a biomethane (zero CO2 renewable gas) supply chain in Italy.
This pilot project aligns with Hitachi’s Social Innovation mission that aims to contribute to developing the world we live in by creating innovative solutions. The development of the activities agreed in the Memorandum constitute an important contribution in terms of environmental impact, value generation and sustainability: converting existing trains to run on methane actually extends their life cycle, benefitting the environment and society.
FS Italiane Foundation promotes green tourism through the use of innovative technologies to drive energy efficiency, using renewable fuels and resources to reduce pollution and encourage a sustainable and eco-compatible lifestyle. As part of the Memorandum with Snam and Hitachi, the Foundation will supply the railcars for the scheme and, together with Trenitalia (the primary train operator in Italy), will make the workshops available for the necessary adjustment interventions.
The trains powered by natural gas will be at the forefront of sustainable tourism and will transport the thousands of tourists who choose to take a slower journey to discover the most evocative places in the Italian provinces, along the approximately 700 km of railway which the FS Italiane Foundation operates.
It is also envisaged that the FS Italiane Foundation and the Snam Foundation will partner on tourism projects.
The agreement may be subject to subsequent binding agreements that the parties will define in compliance with the applicable regulatory profiles, including those relating to transactions between related parties.
Historical Footnote: Natural gas use in the transport sector in Italy began in the 1930s. During the second world-war a lot of diesel trains where converted to natural gas due to lack of diesel fuel (e.g see https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotrice_FNM_Md._510).