Rail transportation is playing a very important role in the effort to keep the world’s expanding major cities safe and mobile. Travel by rail can move people and cargo with higher levels of energy efficiency, greater safety, lower cost and greater reliability than any other mode of transportation. On average, trips by train can generate between one third and one fifth of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the equivalent automobile or airplane travel. Environmental awareness plus reduced operating costs are primary considerations in decision making for new transit programs around the globe.
Energy consumption is a major part of rail operation costs and has been at the focus of rail systems sustainability initiatives. The majority of energy consumed by metropolitan and urban rail systems is used to move the trains. In recent years, energy saving technologies for rail vehicle power systems have been implemented on many rail systems worldwide. Improving railway energy efficiency results in not only a reduction in energy consumption and cost, but also a reduction in pollution due to power generation. In an effort to promote environmental quality and energy efficiency, energy usage in rail systems is analyzed to identify new technologies, developments, and procedures for increased efficiency. This paper provides an overview of the various strategies and solutions used to increase energy efficiency in rail systems and highlights the key technologies needed for their implementation.