Mid-June this year, Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in the NGV sector as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2013. The document records the parties’ intention to employ natural gas as a fuel for railroad applications.
Natural gas will make it possible to reduce fuel-related transportation costs and to mitigate adverse environmental impacts.
The parties will jointly develop and implement programs for designing, testing and using gas–powered locomotives. A draft Federal Target Program on Natural Gas as a Motor Fuel for the Railway Rolling Stock between 2014 and 2020 will be prepared.
The number of gas-powered locomotives and their maintenance facilities will be gradually increased along with the development of NGV fuel production capacities and refueling infrastructure.
Russian Railways will coordinate the production of natural gas-powered locomotives, will take part in adapting production & technical facilities of operating companies to NGVs and will organize a system of vocational training and re-training for engineers, technicians and locomotive crews in the area of gas-powered locomotive operation and maintenance.
Gazprom will coordinate the construction of NGV infrastructure in line with synchronization schedules for the development of gas-powered rail transport. The Company will fuel rail transport at locations agreed with Russian Railways and will ensure that NGV infrastructure meets the present-day requirements. The Company will also contribute to testing prototype models of rail transport. These activities will be performed by a special-purpose company – Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo.
Owning a vast infrastructure and a considerable part of the Russian railway rolling stock, Russian Railways is among the world’s top three railway companies and is the major operator of the Russian railway network. The Russian Federation is the founder and the only shareholder of Russian Railways.
In 2005 Russian Railways started implementing the project aimed at developing and producing a natural gas-powered locomotive (gas turbine locomotive) within its strategy for increasing energy efficiency in transportation activities. The first trial trips of the gas turbine locomotive proved its efficiency in transporting heavy trains. In 2009 the gas turbine locomotive transported a 15.2-thousand-ton freight train. It is the world record for a self-powered locomotive with one propulsion unit.
Under an Agreement signed between Russian Railways and Sinara Group, 40 such gas turbine locomotives will be produced for the Sverdlovsk and Severnaya Railways till 2020.