Green technologies to shape the future of Russian Railways


As a national leader in technology and partner to global railway associations, Russian Railways (RZD) is implementing international projects focused on sustainable development. Sergey Kobzev, First Deputy General Director and Chief Engineer of RZD, responsible for environmental protection issues, reduction of the carbon footprint and ensuring compliance with international sustainable development standards, explains more.

In May 2020, much of the world was still in the grip of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. When we surveyed senior supply-chain executives from across industries and geographies, 93 percent of respondents told us that they intended to make their supply chains far more flexible, agile, and resilient.

Railroad electrification

In our General Scheme for the Development of Railways, the priority is electrifying high-traffic areas currently operating with diesel traction. Measures to replace diesel fuel with electric energy will reduce its share on diesel traction, leading to a reduction in diesel-fuel consumption and a decrease in greenhouse (GHG) emissions by approximately six per cent (458,000 tonnes of CO2e).

Along with electrifying rail lines, we are working to improve the efficiency of electricity usage for train traction and more.

Infrastructure projects

We are also working on the use of renewable energy sources. Since 2008, we have been replacing small diesel and coal-fired boiler houses with heat pumps that take in heat from the environment and do not produce any emissions into the atmosphere. We have installed more than 100 such pumps so far and, in 2021, we have already examined and selected over 50 more facilities where we can get rid of coal-fired boiler houses and replace the heat source with heat pumps.

Our first solar power plant with a capacity of 30.7kW was built in 2019. We are also working on the use of solar generation to power facilities. Signalling control posts and crossings are the main sites that will be powered by energy from solar modules, and more than 170 such objects have been selected.

Other green projects

Our updated technical requirements for traction rolling stock have made it possible to build electric locomotives and trains with improved energy characteristics. Over the past six years, such green energy has grown by 29 per cent, reaching 2.6 billion kWh in 2020.

To reduce pollutants, medium-term plans have been drawn up to replace oil-filled transformers and high-voltage switches with dry ones.

Large-scale work is underway to replace mercury containing lighting devices with modern LED ones, which, in addition to decommissioning mercury-containing equipment, will also reduce energy consumption for lighting by more than 60 per cent. By the end of 2021, we plan to decommission more than 215,000 mercury containing lighting devices.

Eco-friendly rolling stock

We are acquiring modern rolling stock that meets all current environmental requirements.

There are still passenger rail routes in Russia that run partially along non-electrified lines, and it is important that such routes feature modern trains that are comfortable for passengers and environmentally safe.

We plan to start using hydrogen-fuel-cell passenger trains, and the island of Sakhalin will become a pilot testing ground for them. We are also working on replicating this technology for use at stationary RZD facilities.

In addition, we are making innovations in the use of liquefied natural gas as a vehicle fuel. By 2030, we plan to replace 25 per cent of diesel fuel consumed by autonomous locomotives with natural gas.

Environmental control and monitoring

To create an internal system for verifying our impact on the environment and fulfilling state requirements for industrial environmental control, a powerful structure of environmental instrumental control and monitoring has been set on our network.

Instrumental control is carried out by 56 stationary environmental laboratories, 11 wagons and 53 automobiles. Emissions from mainline and shunting diesel locomotives, as well as other track equipment, are monitored by 108 environmental control points.

We have our own automated control system ‘Ecology’, which helps accumulate and analyse information on the results of control and monitoring. We plan to integrate it into the automated state system of environmental monitoring, and we are already working on this issue with federal ministries and departments.

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Source: Информационно-аналитический портал Калининграда
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