Late last month, GRDF –one of the largest natural gas distributors in the European Union– visited Riga, Latvia’s capital city, together with representatives of the French city of Lille, to familiarize themselves with the dual-fuel gas operation of a converted diesel locomotive. The Latvian project is the work of National railway LDz (Latvijas Dzelzceļš) and Riga-based DiGAS.
The project explores the operations of a CKD CME3 shunting locomotive set up for dual-fuel drive, and aims to calculate the economics of utilizing this type of rail-yard locomotive on a daily basis.
Excluding conversion costs, the initial tests and calculations estimate that dual-fuel locomotives could provide annual savings of EUR 31 800 (USD 35 500) each while cutting the estimated financial impact of emissions by about 50%, equivalent to approximately EUR 56 000..
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.
Franck Dhersin, Hauts-de-France region’s Vice-President for Transport, noting France’s intention to ban diesel vehicles by 2025, said gas is an affordable alternative that does not require investment in electrification. He and others present at the inspection of the locomotive on March 25 have agreed to consider cooperative development opportunities related to this natural gas project.
“The goal of our team is to become more environmentally friendly, as Europe is currently facing several challenges in the field of transport, including negative impacts on the environment and public health. The benefits of dual use are both reducing emissions and reducing noise and vibration”, explained DiGAS Chairman of the Board Petro Dumenko.
DiGas is developing the dual-fuel system within the project “Novel dual-fuel system for modernisation of air-polluting diesel locomotives to clean and efficient gas operation — NYSMART”. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 784620.