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Sustainable and intelligent management of energy for smarter railway systems in Europe: an integrated optimisation approach

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Better energy flow in railway systems

Europe's electric mainline railway systems provide an important service to individuals and businesses. Energy management solutions can enhance their sustainability, and a large EU-funded consortium has delivered a roadmap to this effect.

Climate Change and Environment

Developing a pan-European railway energy management system (REM-S) is a challenging task that would be impossible to achieve by an individual supplier, operator or infrastructure manager on its own. A consortium of 18 partners representing major stakeholders across Europe has worked together on the EU-funded MERLIN (Sustainable and intelligent management of energy for smarter railway systems in Europe: An integrated optimisation approach) project to provide an integrated solution. Combining their expertise, the partners characterised the main railway networks in Europe by defining infrastructures, subsystems and components. Researchers then developed a graphical depiction of overall energy flow. They articulated energy consumption maps for the railway power supply systems of representative networks in Spain, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Five case studies in four European countries helped evaluate various aspects of improved energy management. The high-speed network from Paris to Lyon was included to evaluate the introduction of an energy storage system (ESS) in order to improve line capacity. In parallel, scientists worked on minimising power losses and enhancing punctuality and delivery during peak power demands in Swedish intercity systems. Introduction of an ESS to suburban service in Spain that already exploits rheostatic braking (converting kinetic energy into electrical energy) was evaluated to enable more efficient traction energy. Two scenarios from the United Kingdom were also included, one to optimise the usage of electrified or diesel vehicles and one to implement new contractual arrangements. Partners outlined the reference architecture for the REM-S based on the Smart Grid Architecture Model and the main subsystems of the main railway networks. They also defined the structure of the decision-making tool that supports REM-S objectives and energy purchasing optimisation possibilities. As there are currently no applicable standards for an integrated REM-S, scientists evaluated the standardisation and calibration of energy meters and information exchange protocols between components from on-board energy meters to smart grid components. Project outcomes include two technical recommendation proposals. The first covers business, function and component layers in one, while the second covers communication and information layers. Overall, MERLIN developed the components and management tools necessary for efficient energy resource management on European electric railways. The expected standardisation will make an important contribution to future development, implementation and effectiveness. Finally, optimised energy management for reduced consumption could lead to cost savings passed on to consumers in the form of reduced fares.


Railway, energy management, MERLIN, energy meters, smart grid

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