Electrification and Energy Sources

Electrification and Energy Sources

Investing in railway traction decarbonisation

As the investment required to electrify rail routes is significant, Ricardo teams are on-hand to ensure you get the most from your electrification investments.

Example projects above range from certification of new routes, optimising operations to reduce energy consumption and greening the power grid by directly coupling renewable power sources directly to the railway.

Our electrification expertise does not stop there - Once the power and performance benefits have begun to flow, our teams have also created a range of products to keep that infrastructure investment in top condition with both pantograph and catenary monitoring systems to ensure both current and vehicles continue to flow whilst minimising maintenance. 

Read on for detail on these examples and if you would like to discuss how we supercharge your next railway electrification project then contact us to find out more

Electrification to enable traction decarbonisation

In many usage cases overhead electrification provides the optimum solution for decarbonising railway transport.

The combination of not carrying around an energy source (fuel or batteries), coupled to high efficiency power distribution and traction motors gives both a performance and efficiency edge to electric rollingstock. Electric rollingstock is also generally cheaper to buy and more reliable than fossil fuelled alternatives. Electrically powered rollingstock also does not adversely affect local air quality too. The carbon intensity of traction depends on the generation mix in the region and the running costs depend upon the energy prices (electricity vs diesel). Many nations are ramping up renewable grid electricity supplies to supplement or replace fossil fuel suppliers to further decarbonise the traction energy source.  

Our teams work in many areas of electrified transport with examples below showing some ways we can help on the path to decarbonisation via railway electrification. Take a look to find out more and contact us if you have a project to discuss

Where to electrify and where to pull the plug

Whilst some campaign to electrify everything, neither funds nor resource are infinite, so a more measured approach is required. There are many factors to consider determining if electrification is the best initial option a particular route let alone how that electrification should be implemented. 

Emerging technologies such as hybrid vehicles are facilitating new electrification options previously deemed impossible or impractical such as discontinuous and discrete electrification. These new options which cover unpowered wired sections and unwired sections of routes respectively add a new dimension of complexity to assessing where and when electrification funds are best allocated to address decarbonisation and route performance targets. 

With the added depth and complexity of electrification and alternative powertrain options available, the value Ricardo expertise brings as technology-agnostic yet railway experienced technology leader to assess, verify and implement the optimum solution for routes and networks is increasingly important. 


Embracing renewable power sources

Whilst getting power from the grid to the vehicle is one essential part of the electrification challenge, decarbonising the electricity supply by embedding renewable electricity sources is also a vital component of decarbonising railway transport. Ricardo has been working with Riding Sunbeams to do just that, splicing solar power into the railway power supply to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. Read more below on the ongoing work in this area or if you have a new project in mind then contact us to see how our teams can assist. 

Solar Powered Railways

Solar Powered Railways

Read more

Keeping assets safe and operating efficiently

Overhead electrification operates in harsh environments subject to many external factors which can affect operations and the rate of asset degradation. Our digital monitoring teams have worked closely with asset owners and operators to develop non-invasive monitoring techniques and equipment to build in to asset condition monitoring systems for both vehicle pantographs (PanMon) and the catenary assets (CatMon). Look below to see how these systems can detect abnormalities before they result in expensive and disruptive in-service failures, delivering increased vehicle and track availability whilst minimising maintenance costs. If you'd like to discuss either then get in touch.

Contact us

Areas of interest:

Please select your areas of interest
Please tick the boxes below if you give consent for Ricardo to contact you with additional information on our services, products or events. Your information will be stored on our secure systems, will not be shared with 3rd parties, click here for Ricardo’s privacy notice.