Photo: Image courtesy of Operail

Operail to build Baltics’ first LNG freight locomotive

Operail, an international logistics and transportation company, has entered into a cooperation agreement with the Latvian company DiGas to develop the first cargo-carrying LNG freight locomotive in the region.

DiGas is an engineering company based in Riga, Latvia, that is currently advancing its own dual-fuel system.

Previously, gas technology has been tested and used on shunting locomotives, Operail noted in its statement. Adding the LNG system to freight locomotives is a landmark event in Baltic railway transportation and the railway sector in general.

On average, an LNG locomotive uses 30 percent less fuel and emits 20 percent less carbon dioxide and 70 percent less sulphur dioxide.

Raul Toomsalu, chairman of the management board of Operail, said, “We will invest a quarter million euros and begin the construction of a pilot locomotive so that after the testing period, we could implement the same technology on all of our freight locomotives.”

He added that the production costs of the first locomotive are higher, but after that, the addition of LNG tanks and systems will be much more affordable. He also urged other transportation and logistics companies to look for more sustainable solutions.

The reconstruction process of the American General Electric C36 locomotive involves dividing the 17,000-litre fuel tank in two – half for diesel fuel and half for LNG – and the addition of new systems.

The information systems of an LNG locomotive store all information regarding fuel consumption and data analysis will allow further savings.

The first LNG locomotive should be completed next spring and tested in summer 2020.

After obtaining the required approvals from Eesti Raudtee and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, the locomotive is planned to start operating in freight transportation in late 2020.


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