A company in South Western England, creatively titled South Western Railway, have completed a trial which could revolutionize rail travel. Working with companies Potterbrook and the emissions specialist Eminox, they have found a way to reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 80% and carbon monoxide output by over 90% on diesel trains.
While electrical trains are seen as a long term solution to reducing carbon emissions, this new trial can be adapted to existing diesel trains very quickly. In the UK over 35% of trains are still diesel so retrofitting this technology will be seen as a major boon. The United States should also take note, with over 26,000 diesel freight locomotives in operation as of 2018 there is a clear incentive to get on board.
Speaking about this major step forward in improving environmental conditions around the world, the UK Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris noted: “the success of this trial in reducing harmful emissions underlines the importance of the FIrst of a Kind competition, which funds pioneering projects to support better, more environmentally friendly rail journeys”.
There has been a push for adoption of this kind of technology across the globe. In Northern California, Capitol Corridor Rail has been introducing technology in existing stock which uses renewable biodiesel fuels and significantly reduces CO2 emissions. In central California, the local rail company in San Joaquin Valley have replaced existing stocks’ power units with near net zero emission as a consequence, reducing Nitrogen Oxide emissions by over 300 tons.
The UK has been seeking ways for a number of years now to get ahead on the rail emissions front and also take people off the roads (there is an average of 41g of CO2 emissions per person per rail trip versus 171g for a single car trip). Kelvin Davies of Innovate UK commented: “Working with the Department for Transport, Innovate UK has sought the best ideas from innovators to make our railway even greener. Technology such as that developed by Eminox and deployed by South Western Railways delivers a win-win.
With this kind of enthusiasm, it is easy to see why the UK are going full steam ahead with this energy efficient initiative.
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