The Estonian international logistics and transportation company Operail has signed an agreement with the Latvian producer DiGas (specialized in dual-fuel solutions in Diesel engines), to retrofit and pilot the first cargo-carrying LNG mainline freight locomotive in the Baltic region.
The dual-fuel LNG technology developed by DiGas has already been extensively tested on shunting locomotives; but the installation of this kind of system on a freight locomotive is landmark event in Baltic railway transportation and the railway sector in general.
The reconstruction process will take place on an American General Electric “C36” model, and involves dividing the 17,000-litre fuel tank in two parts (half for diesel fuel and half for LNG), and the addition of new information systems, that will store all information regarding fuel consumption and data analysis, allowing further savings.
“The production costs of the first locomotive are higher, but after that, the addition of LNG tanks and systems will be much more affordable. We also call upon other transportation and logistics companies to also look for more sustainable solutions”, declared the Chairman of the Management Board of Operail, Raul Toomsalu.” The first LNG freight locomotive is an excellent example of how the use of new technologies not only makes existing processes more efficient, but also helps to preserve the nature around us”.
The Estonian company will invest 250.000 euros in the prototype and, revealed the manager, intends to convert all freight locomotives into LNG if the pilot project will be successful. On average, a LNG locomotive provides about 30% of fuel-saving costs and emits 20% less carbon dioxide and 70% less sulfur dioxide.
The first locomotive should be completed next spring and tested in summer 2020. After obtaining the approvals required by Eesti Raudtee and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, it should start operating in freight transport at the end of 2020.