An assessment of available measures to reduce traction energy use in railway networks

Heather Douglas*, Clive Roberts, Stuart Hillmansen, Felix Schmid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Rail is becoming an increasingly popular choice to satisfy transportation demands locally, nationally and internationally, due to its inherent efficiency and high capacity. Despite this, operators are facing pressure to reduce rail energy consumption to meet efficiency targets, whilst still maintaining service quality and managing increased demand. A number of individual measures have been proposed to reduce energy in the rail sector, often showing good results on specific case studies. It is generally agreed that the attainable savings of a given measure change dependant on the route, vehicle and service characteristics. However, there is little information in the literature specifically regarding which measures are most suitable for given network types, or how they interact. This paper therefore aims to begin evaluating the available measures in terms of their suitability for different systems. Firstly, networks are defined in terms of their distinguishing features. As traction accounts for the majority of all energy use in the rail sector, the traction flow through a vehicle is considered as the starting point for an evaluation of measures. Current technologies and procedures are reviewed and categorised based on which area of traction use they target. Thought is given to the factors that affect implementation and the networks where they are applied. A key output of this paper is a comparison of the achievable energy savings of different measures dependent on the network type. It is hoped that this will provide a good starting point for identifying which measures are most applicable for a given network, and the characteristics that affect their success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1165
Number of pages17
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Early online date11 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Efficiency
  • Energy saving
  • Rail networks
  • Traction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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