The Czech engineering company Vitkovice Machinery Group (VMG) has launched a Compressed Natural Gas-powered locomotive for rail operations between Opava and Hlučín. The 15 meter long and four meter high locomotive is described as among the most powerful of its kind in Europe. It was developed by VMG’s Vitkovice Transport division and Railway Research Institute, using a rebuilt 714 diesel locomotive provided by the Czech Railways (ČD).
The locomotive bearing 714 801 now pulls passenger cars to deliver three scheduled ČD services a day.
“The locomotive is based at the railway station in Opava East, in whose vicinity we have the intention to build a stationary CNG filling station. Refueling from it will not only be the locomotive but also buses, commuter carriers and all private vehicles using CNG,” said Vitkovice Commercial Director, Martin Žák.
The CNG locomotive was outfitted with two new engines with an output of 260 kW. The original fuel tank was replaced with bundles of cylinders with a diameter of 360 mm, total volume 3430 liters, which represents a supply of about 530 kg CNG. Fully fueled, the locomotive is able to travel up to 1,500 kilometers, depending on the track profile and train weight. For the most part, the locomotive will haul four passenger cars on the Opava-Hlučín line.
CNG operation is about 40 percent cheaper than a diesel locomotive, while delivering similar performance to diesel. Furthermore, the operation of the ecological locomotive produces no dust particles and significantly lowers nitrogen oxide emissions, carbon dioxide and monoxide.
“Without exaggeration, one can say that it is a small railway revolution. If the CNG locomotive receives approval at Opava, we assume that Czech Railways will be thinking about other reconstructions of these locomotives and their subsequent deployment to operation,” added Rodan Broskevič of Vitokovice.
The trend of using CNG as an alternative fuel in the Czech Republic is continuously growing. The most dynamic growth is recorded for car traffic. VMG Group recorded an increase of almost 30 percent of fuel sales compared to the previous year. Furthermore, an increasing number of CNG filling stations are being opened by VMG open under the brand CNGvitall; 15 CNG filling stations are now open and 20 are expected to be operational by end-2015.
(Source: Vitkovice Machinery Group)