The energy use associated with the operation of accessory equipment is of relatively small importance in rail freight. However, any stand-alone system or off-board wayside electrification system that eliminates the need to idle the main engine to provide comfort to the driver (e.g. air-conditioning) or communications and lighting will conserve fuel.

Application relevance

In Australia a significant amount of dwell time (idling) is spent in passing loops and not in the rail yard, when compared as a proportion of total transit time. At face value, this would indicate that there is a potential need for such systems.

Potential benefits

No case study information is available to demonstrate fuel savings from auxiliary power systems in Australia.

Key implementation considerations

The business case for adoption in Australia is uncertain due to considerable performance uncertainty in Australian conditions.

The realisation of this opportunity also requires the adoption of idle reduction technology.

Examples of implementation

Progressive Railroading article 

This article discusses Providence & Worcester Railroad’s installation of auxiliary power units on 17 locomotives to reduce unnecessary idling. It also identifies US$535,250 of Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay partnership funding to trial the use of auxiliary power (Progressive Railroading 2009). 

For the full report, see Fuel for Thought – Identifying potential energy efficiency opportunities in the Australian road and rail sectors (opens in a new window) PDF 1.5 MB.