Tag Archive for: rail transport

Participants del curso SURCO Aragón, octubre 2022

Aragon commits to intermodality in rail transport through SURCO

The SURCO Aragón training, promoted by the Escola Europea and ALIA – Clúster Logístico de Aragón, focused on collaborative dynamics and the optimisation of national and international railway operations.

The SURCO – Simple Use of Railway Connections – courses delve into intermodal rail operations within ports and rail terminals, focusing on rail’s characteristics and advantages. In this edition of the course, held from 26 September to 4 October 2022 between Zaragoza, Barcelona and Perpignan, professionals from different parts of the Aragonese and Barcelona region came together to share the fundamental elements of rail logistics and apply them to reality through visits to operators and through the resolution of a practical case study. The training was organised and created in alliance with ALIA – the logistics cluster based in Zaragoza – and with the support of companies such as ViiA, the Zaragoza Maritime Terminal, the Port of Barcelona, Renfe, SLISA, Aragón Plataforma Logística, ADIF and the terminals of Ambrogio, Morrot and APM Terminals.

The training complies with the aims set by the European Union to increase the use of rail motorways and rail traffic in general as an incentive to promote sustainable mobility in the region. It is in this context that knowledge of the different aspects surrounding rail freight transport is not only beneficial for students and professionals but indispensable for companies involved in freight transport. This is where the offer of training courses that focus on local and international aspects, as SURCO Aragón did, take on special significance.

In this edition, 23 professionals from different freight transport companies, freight forwarders and import and export companies from Aragon, alongside others interested in the use of rail transport, were able to understand and subsequently apply the different elements necessary to offer efficient solutions by the inclusion of rail in the multimodal chain.

Theoretical classes focused on the management of railway systems, the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), the impact of rail transport on the environment, procurement and international rail transport, and cost analysis of rail transport chains.

To apply the theoretical concepts, the course incorporated several visits to the railway infrastructures on the border between Spain and France: ViiA’s Le Boulou railway lorry terminal, the Zaragoza Maritime Terminal, the PLAZA intermodal terminal (ADIF), the Ambrogio intermodal terminal, the Morrot railway terminal, the ADIF traffic control centre in Zaragoza and the APM Terminals container terminal.

In addition to the visits and classes, participants worked on a practical case study in groups, which allowed them to put into practice everything they had learned.

For more information about the course, you can head to: SURCO Aragon 2022 – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport.

Green hydrogen ‘comes back to the future’

Green hydrogen as a source of fuel can be essential for decarbonizing the transport sector, especially for covering the limitations of electric solutions and other clean energies, since it is found easily and thanks to the increase of research projects worldwide, green H is getting cheaper.

Anthony-Rampersad_Unsplash_Green Hydrogen

What is ‘Green Hydrogen’?

Green Hydrogen is a source of energy that has no colour, no odour or taste, is abundant and it does not emit any carbon dioxide emissions when used to power fuel cells.

There are different types of hydrogen and every type has its characteristics; they’re essentially colour codes, used within the energy industry to mark each type of hydrogen.It can be grey, blue, green, brown and even yellow and pink, depending on the type of products used, different colours are assigned to the hydrogen.

As the iconic movie trilogy of the mid-’80s “Back to the future” predicted, we can say that hydrogen “comes back to the future”.

Many factors make this raw material so appealing as a great alternative in comparison to electric and carbon fuels. And especially, now is the time to incentivise green fuels as the need for decarbonising the planet is one of the goals that countries around the world have set for 2050, especially the European Union.

How does Green Hydrogen work?

As explained before, hydrogen has no colour, but the name of the colour is given by the type of waste in the production process. Grey and blue come from fossil fuels that generate CO2, and the resulting emissions are captured, stored and not released into the atmosphere. Pink hydrogen comes through electrolysis powered by nuclear energy, yellow is a relatively new phrase for hydrogen made through electrolysis using solar power. Brown hydrogen is made using black coal or lignite (brown coal), these black and brown hydrogen are the opposite of green hydrogen in the hydrogen spectrum and the most environmentally damaging – whereas green hydrogen does not generate any emission neither in the production process nor the combustion.

Green Hydrogen is produced with no harmful greenhouse gas emissions and is generated by using clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to electrolyse water. Electrolysers use an electrochemical reaction to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, emitting zero-carbon dioxide in the process, according to National Grid information.

How can the transport sector make use of green hydrogen?

Since the transport sector represents the source of one-third of total CO2 emissions in Europe, it could benefit from the renewed attention on hydrogen to replace fossil fuels and meet the European Union decarbonisation goals. This way it could be a lead actor in the transport sector where batteries are an impracticable solution to substitute fossil fuels powering ferries, coasting trade or inland waterways and in rail applications.

Currently, the production of green hydrogen represents a small percentage of the overall, this is due to the elevated costs of production. Green hydrogen will come down in price as it becomes more common, providing an answer to one of the great challenges facing the energy sector. Developing systems to store surplus energy from renewables on a large scale, reduce Europe’s energy dependence, and cover gap areas since electric energy cannot be used in all transport systems as in maritime transport.

What are the obstacles to using green hydrogen?

So, can green hydrogen be implemented right away in the transportation sector? One of the biggest barriers to the adoption of this fuel for the transport sector comes from the low supply, since FC vehicles are expensive, although mass-production could reduce costs, as well as the difficulties of mass market diffusion in hydrogen storage. If applied in the current scenario of mass production vehicles for transport and fuels, hydrogen could reach areas where batteries and electric energy sources cannot cover.

Application in maritime transport

One of the major consumers of oil products and heavy fuels is the maritime sector, harming the quality of air, especially around ports. If applied to the engines of the maritime transport sector, green hydrogen could reduce not only emissions during sea navigation, but also those deriving from port operations.

In the last year, there have been some steps towards creating the world’s first hydrogen-powered cargo ship. Implementing this technology on ships, ferries and other coastal crafts could strongly reduce CO2 emissions.

Application in rail transport

Currently, it is difficult to electrify certain sections of railway lines on which fossil fuel-powered trains are used. Hydrogen trains are considered competitive for those railway sections that don’t depend on electric energy, with a low frequency of service and operate on long distances. These conditions are frequent in rail transport, making hydrogen rail mobility interesting from an economic point of view and an excellent opportunity to further decarbonise public transport, according to Enea, (Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile).

 

Certainly, we will see green hydrogen powering sectors that strongly depend on carbon fuels as companies and countries meet the goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, especially in the maritime and rail transport sectors. This is without a doubt a comeback to clean and essential sources of energy and as the famous DeLorean from the film, engines will be using clean hydrogen to keep up the pace.

 

Sources:

The hydrogen colour spectrum | National Grid Group

 Hydrogen and “green transport” – EAI (enea.it)

Green Hydrogen: an essential element for decarbonization (cepsa.com)

Alternative Fuels Data Center: Hydrogen Benefits and Considerations (energy.gov)

 

Connecting Europe Express

Written by: Lidia Slawinska

Written by: Lidia Slawinska – Digital Communications Manager Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

As 2021 is drawing to a close, it is interesting to consider how far rail has progressed this year. With the 2021 Climate Conference highlighting the needs of the developed nations to hasten their efforts to curb CO2 emissions, the concept of rail has gained further promise in the eyes of many European governments. In this #DidYouKnow article, and in anticipation of the 2021 SURCO Operations II course which will take place in the first month of 2022, we decided to focus on one experiment recently launched by the European Union to try to evaluate the status of rail on the European continent – namely the Connecting Europe Express.

What is (was) the Connecting Europe Express?

The project was launched by the European Union to shine a spotlight on the various interoperability issues that currently plague the continent, as well as to highlight the cooperation of many companies and implicated parties from different nations. The project, which involved one train journey, lasted 36 days visiting 26 European countries with the ultimate goal of helping the public better understand what difficulties European rail faces in current times in efforts to become the preferred mode for both passengers and freight.

The actual “Express” comprised 3 gauges trains to allow for transit in all of the countries on the itinerary. Throughout its journey, which began on the 2nd of September 2021, the train traversed 20 000km through 33 border crossings. It made 100 stops and included 5 overnight trips. It did all of this with the support of more than 40 railway partners from numerous European countries.  It began its journey in Lisbon (Portugal) and arrived at its final destination in Paris on the 7th of October 2021.

Freight transport in the spotlight

There is no doubt that freight transport has a myriad of advantages over other forms of transport – notably in terms carbon emissions, comfort and cost. Though it is not without faults, it does provide an excellent solution to many transport companies who are seeking to diminish their carbon footprints and help bring to life the climate-protecting goals set by international organisations.

The Connecting Europe Express showed that through rail, both passengers and businesses could benefit. The project also shone a spotlight on the work that the European Union still has left in terms of conflicting and incomplete infrastructures that complicate the train journeys on the continent (the three gauges being one of the complications).

In terms of freight transport, the Express  was able to educate the public on the concept of the rolling roads. The train stopped at the Brenner Pass in Austria during its journey – a vital opportunity to highlight the advantages of train for truckers. The Brenner Pass is a connecting point from the road to the “rolling road” – a concept that allows trucks to pass certain segments of their journeys on the trains. The trucks can roll onto the trains, giving the drivers the opportunity to enjoy the comforts of a passenger train carriage. The rolling roads can now transport most types of lorries and have proven to be safe and cost-preserving (with the possibilities of avoiding tolls and fuel charges). The added publicity and awareness that was raised during this stop helped shine some light on such complementary options for truckers and road transport companies.

 The European Year Rail

This year has been declared the European Year of Rail. The European Union has spent the year promoting this mode of transport in spite of the complications imposed by the Covid-19 restrictions. The Connecting Europe Express was the EU’s flagship project – it helped both raise awareness for everything that rail has to offer, and to highlight what still must be done to ensure the optimal use of this mode.

Intermodal transport is the lifeline of the Escola Europea, and we have been offering courses that highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the various modes of transport since our inception. Rail became a staple of our courses in 2009 with the launch of SURCO (Simple Use Railway Connections). Our training offer continually adapts to the technological, environmental, and societal changes that take place in the sector, and the courses offer real-life case studies from professionals active in the sector. Our SURCO Operations II course also includes visits to Perpignan, where participants can witness actual rolling road operations in the Le Boulou Lorry Rail terminal.

If you are interested to learn more, you can head to the SURCO page on our website, or find out more about our upcoming course in January here.

Sources:

Icon for the SURCO Operations course

The Escola Europea to kick off 2022 with a course in railway intermodality

Between the 24th to the 28th of January 2022, the Escola will bring back the in-person railway intermodality courses with the newest edition of the SURCO Operations II course. The course offers advanced training in intermodal logistics and international and national railway freight transport.

The training is directed at professionals linked to companies involved with freight transport, shippers and/or port authorities.

The course analyses the different elements required for the provision of rail services and gives the necessary training and information to those who manage logistics chains in which the railroad is seen as a cost-effective alternative for services, cost or time. It also promotes the use of rail transport by exploring its characteristics.

The lecturers of the course are provided by relevant companies in the railway transport sector:   Viia, TMZ Zaragoza, Port de Barcelona, BASF, LFP Perthus, Puertos del Estado, Renfe and Adif. Taking place over 5 days, the course will combine both theoretical lectures on the state of the art of European railways with practical visits to terminals in Barcelona, Zaragoza, and Perpignan (France).

This SURCO course marks a shift back to the Escola’s signature experiential courses following the drastic changes that took place in 2020 and 2021 to help mitigate the effects of the global health crisis.

For more information, you can head to the programme website: https://escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/surco-operations-ii-2022/.

Railway Lines

The essential railway infrastructure and equipment – Spotlight on Spain

The European railway system transports around 1.6 billion tonnes of freight each year. The railway is central to the EU’s strategy for a more sustainable transport sector, helping ensure economic and social cohesion and connecting Europeans within and between Member States.

The density of the national rail networks reflects the different geographical characteristics of the countries, with the Nordic and Baltic countries having the lowest rail network density on the continent.

Rail has the potential to play an important role in accelerating the reduction of transport emissions. “Rail only represented 2% of total transport energy consumption in the EU, while representing for 11.2% of freight and 6.6% of passengers in all modes of transport in 2016” (data from the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the European Council, 2019). However, rail freight also has a number of other advantages: improved safety of goods compared to other means, lower accident rates, more storage capacity as a large volume of cargo can be transported over very long distances, and the potential for intermodality, if necessary.

Maintaining and renewing the existing network to improve safety and operational performance as well as ensuring a reliable service is a major challenge for infrastructure managers, especially in the face of increased traffic and demanding performance targets set by national authorities and operators.

This results in a number of disadvantages that caused this means to not be one of the most used for the transport of goods. It is conditional on the existence of infrastructures that are non-existent in some European countries. In addition, this means that, unlike other means, there are very few occasions when it can reach the warehouse or the final destination of the goods without the help of complementary means (such as the road).

Mandatory Intermodality

Rail transport falls under the intermodality umbrella, as it requires road transport to chauffer the goods from the point of origin to the railways, and to their final destinations. Rail gauge: The width of the gauge can differ from one country to another, which can cause difficulties in the transhipment of goods, and thus result in a significant increase in the expense of money and time.

The EU’s railways continue to grow. Rail markets are gradually opening up and safety levels remain high. This sector is increasingly demanding in terms of performance, innovation and responsiveness to customer needs. Rail transport’s fight to increase its modal share remains centered around interoperability and cross-border coordination issues. Corridors are a key part of the Commission’s policy to boost rail freight. The Rail Freight Regulation and the train drivers Directive are still being evaluated in order to boost and facilitate rail transport.

Spain

Locomotive of RENFE - the Spanish railway operator

In Spain, the railway represents around 4% of the total freight transport market. This market share has decreased in recent years in favour of road transport. Although part of this trend is common to other countries, the rail market share in Spain is much smaller. For example, rail represents 19% of the total goods market in Germany and 15% in France –  nearly four times the Spanish equivalent.

If the sector can convince transporters to opt for rail motorways to reduce costs, and get exporters and importers to bring their goods to the ports through the use of the rail, it is likely to grow in the coming years.

To improve international rail freight traffic, France and Spain have re-launched two rail motorways between the two countries, through a call for expressions of interest. This marks the first step in finding out whether or not the infrastructure is viable in the region.

Intrigued? The Escola organises courses focusing in particular on maritime rail and maritime-road intermodal solutions, called SURCO. Contact us if you’d like to know more and to find out when the next courses will take place.

Written by:

  • Raquel Nunes – Co-founder of Youngship Portugal

Tag Archive for: rail transport

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