Latest Rail News

03.04.14

South West Trains pilots energy-saving technology

A new energy saving transmission technology for diesel fleets, aimed at cutting energy consumption by a further 10%, is being trialled by the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance.

Fuel-saving gearbox technology will be installed on a Class 158 for the pilot scheme, which will run for six to eight months.

This should cut the amount of fuel lost when the train is operating at low speed.

The technology has come after research and development with the SWT-NR Alliance as well as fleet owner Porterbrook, VosslohKiepe UK and ZF.

Christian Roth, fleet director for the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance, said: “As energy saving and fuel costs remain a major concern for the rail industry, there is a pressing need for engineers to develop new and novel ways to save fuel.”

Previous research showed that the existing hydrodynamic transmission system on the diesel fleets, while reliable and robust, was inefficient when trains are operating at low speeds. But by substituting the existing hydrodynamic transmission with a modern automatic transmission, with five distinct gear ratios, the fuel losses within the transmission at lower speeds are reduced. As a result, the transmission efficiency becomes greater than 90% across the whole vehicle speed range, leading to predicted fuel saving of more than 10%.

Currently, two of the new ZF transmissions are in passenger service with South West Trains and are fitted under unit 158885. The trial will allow for accurate fuel efficiency data to be gathered by monitoring the modified unit against an un-modified unit on the same diagrams and stopping patterns.

“Our research has demonstrated that a vehicle operating with a more efficient transmission, when driven to the same speed profile as a less efficient transmission, will consume less fuel,” added Roth.

(Image of Class 158s and 159s copyright Geof Sheppard, used here under a Creative Commons licence)

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