The main objective of Railenergy project is to address energy efficiency of the integrated railway system and to investigate and validate solutions ranging from the introduction of innovative traction technologies, components and layouts to the development of rolling stock, operation and infrastructure management strategies.
Efficiency of energy use has been put forward as one of the priorities by the EU policy makers with the Directive on energy efficiency and energy services proposed by the European Commission in December 2003. Energy efficiency in transport has only been covered indirectly in this legislative framework by reference to maximum levels of CO2 emissions, and therefore remains subject to voluntary measures and efforts by the various stakeholders in the transport sector. Even though rail uses significantly less energy and causes lower emissions than personal road transport and is between 3 to 5 times more energy efficient than the private car the weight of public opinion is demanding that these advantages are improved upon. This is despite the fact that it uses electricity as one of its main sources of power and can thus be easily adapted to access renewable energy sources. Recent massive increases in world market prices for fossil fuels have added urgency to the task and driven the needs of diesel powered traction up the political agenda. Within this call for proposal of the 6th Framework Programme, many of the most important railway integrators and suppliers have come together with the major railway operators and infrastructure managers to elaborate the Railenergy Integrated Research Project to develop a holistic framework approach, new concepts and integrated solutions to improve energy efficiency in the railway domain under specific technical, operational, political and socio-economic constraints.
The overall objective of Railenergy is to cut the energy consumption within an optimised railway system thus contributing to a reduction in the life cycle costs of railway operation and of CO2 emissions per seat/kilometre or tonne/kilometre. The project target is to achieve a 6% reduction in the specific energy consumption of the rail system by 2020, assuming that traffic volumes double in comparison with current figures.