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State Secretary gives green light for rail terminal and battery locomotive

At the rail terminal Lage Weide industrial park in Utrecht, State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen today stepped from an old diesel locomotive to the first battery locomotive in the Netherlands, which will be used for working on tracks. She did this in the presence of various other parties, including ProRail, Railcargo, logistic companies and public transport companies (incl the Dutch National Railways (NS), Arriva, Qbuzz, RET and GVB). Two sustainable initiatives will now start: the construction of a rail terminal at Lage Weide and the admission process for the battery locomotive. Strukton has taken the lead in these two initiatives in cooperation with government and market parties.

The business community, as well as government, have clearly defined goals to ensure we comply with climate agreements. Tjark de Vries, Director Strukton Rail Nederland: ‘This means for us that we will need to carry out projects and maintenance without generating any emissions and that we can adopt a circular business model. For the logistics sector this represents a modal shift from road to rail. With the rail terminal at Lage Weide, we expect to achieve 20% of the national government’s objective of removing 440,000 containers per year from roads by 2025. In addition, the battery locomotive will eliminate the use of diesel locomotives for railway maintenance and repair work. This will not only reduce CO2, nitrogen and particulate matter emissions, but it will also help create healthier working conditions.’

Same Goal

State Secretary for Infrastructure and Public Works and Water Management Vivianne Heijnen: ‘It is good to see how various government parties and the market are able to come to an agreement on these two very specific initiatives. We are working towards the same goal together: an easily accessible and liveable country in which there is increased re-use and in which we work in climate-neutral ways.’

Rail Terminal Lage Weide

The Lage Weide industrial park, located in Utrecht, houses many shippers that are currently forced to rely on road transport. This hampers the industrial park’s growth and shippers are also running into limitations. This is why Strukton Rail Short Line took the initiative to revitalise the rail terminal at Lage Weide. The new rail terminal enables companies to make use of the tracks that are already present at Lage Weide. The terminal will have a potential capacity of transporting 200 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) per week per train. This will result in the elimination of 100 trucks per week from traffic jams and in a reduction of 13,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Various shippers have indicated that they would like to make use of the tracks and the terminal.

Companies that move their logistics flow to rail can make use of the grant scheme for the modal shift to rail, published in December.

Battery Locomotive

Old electric locomotives that are written off by NS are given a second life at Strukton where they are used for railway work. Battery locomotives are needed when the overhead line is without power. A battery then supplies the power required to operate the locomotive. Once the locomotive can make use again of the overhead line, the battery recharges itself via that same overhead line.

Tjark de Vries: ‘This makes working on the tracks much cleaner. Furthermore, with this retrofit, the old locomotives can stay in service for many more years. As far as we are concerned, a conversion from fossil to electric is an excellent solution for many existing vehicles and machines. Nothing is squandered and it’s clean.’

ProRail CEO John Voppen adds: ‘We have major, sustainable goals in mind for our railways. As a sector we must come up with creative and innovative solutions to help realise these goals. The battery locomotive for railway activities is a perfect example of this. I am happy that we are gathered here together at the Lage Weide rail terminal to support these sustainable initiatives as we are on the road towards emission-free construction.’

Additional possibilities

In reality, the battery is a small unplugged substation that provides the traction power supply. It does not require a cable from a grid operator to supply power to the battery. Instead, the battery is charged via the overhead line. This high-efficiency electronics application can also be used to make the railway power supply system future-proof. This can be done by making smart adjustments to the existing power supply system without grid operators having to install extra power lines. This saves money and implementation is quick.

State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen: ‘With these two sustainable initiatives that I was privileged to kick off today, we make use of already existing infrastructure and we give substance to the modal shift from road to rail. Fewer polluting trucks on the road and in traffic jams, and no more diesel locomotives on our railways. That is something that I can only applaud.’

Interview with State Secretary

Interview with state secretary by Spoorpro

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