Technical Reports

Best Practices and Strategies for Improving Rail Energy Efficiency

  • 28
  • Jan
  • 2014
AUTHOR: Aviva Brecher, Joseph Sposato, and Bernard Kennedy
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-14/02
KEYWORDS: Alternative fuels; best practices; commuter rail; diesel multiple units; efficient; ultra-clean; electric multiple units; emission reduction technologies; energy; environmental sustainability; freight rail; green; high-speed; hybrid; passenger; equipment
ABSTRACT: In support of the FRA Energy, Environment, and Engine (E3) program, this study reviews and evaluates technology development opportunities, equipment upgrades, and best practices (BPs) of international and U.S. passenger and freight rail industry segments for improving energy efficiency (E2) performance and attaining environmental sustainability goals. FRA’s Preliminary National Rail Plan, the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) initiative and environmental compliance requirements provide new impetus for renewed rail industry E2 advances. This report presents data on comparative rail energy efficiency, emerging energy efficient technologies, and alternative fuels. Based on a comprehensive literature review and on experts’ inputs, the report presents model corporate sustainability plans, rail equipment upgrade opportunities, system-wide BPs, and success stories that measurably improved E2 performance with environmental and economic benefits for all rail industry segments. Findings and recommendations are tailored to intercity and commuter passenger rail, as well as to freight rail carrier (Class I-III) needs and goals for improved, but cost-effective, E2 and environmental performance. Key opportunities include: public-private partnerships (P3) for R&D, demonstrations and equipment upgrades with Federal agencies (FRA), trade associations (AAR, APTA, AASHTO), international rail organizations (UIC), and regional and State environmental protection agencies for E2 and cross-enterprise sustainability improvements.

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