Friday, December 17, 2010

ANZAC Proposals For Alternative Rail Freight Solutions

Natural Gas to Power Locomotives?
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – NEW ZEALAND - A new document on the subject of environmental solutions for rail freight has been released by the Australasian Railways Association (ARA) the body which represents all sectors of railway transport in Australia and New Zealand. The review provides a calculated look at the possible futures of intermodal transport using cleaner technologies, particularly the move from diesel locomotives to natural gas power.

The ARA rues the imbalance between the investment made over past decades in the haulage of ore and coal compared to general freight and points out many of the engines pulling freight wagons are forty or more years old with emissions of over six times the level of Carbon Monoxide, four times the levels of Particulate Matter and twice the levels of Nitrogen Oxides with more CO2 production and fuel use up to 30% higher than modern units.

The review takes both short and long term interests into account with a ten year programme proposed to reduce overall emissions by 2020 by replacing 150 of the worst offending power units, despite the fact this would be economically punitive with an overall cost of up to A$720 million. The ambitious long term scheme would commence with a five year A$37 million investment to study the viability of replacing diesel powered locomotives with cleaner natural gas alternatives.

Australia has a vast reservoir of natural gas and is fearful of rising crude oil prices and a possible shortfall in the longer term and developing and introducing the new technology would reduce emissions, increase energy security and assist in developing a globally unique centre of excellence.

The full ARA proposals can be read HERE.

Photo: Illustration of a Canadian Natural Gas Locomotive proposed in 2002