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Addressing the conflicting stakeholder requirements for energy efficiency within urban rail systems

Lookup NU author(s): Paul Batty, Professor Roberto Palacin, Dr Arturo Gonzalez Gil, Ross Jackson


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The growing threat of climate change and the continued rise in energy prices has led to increasingly stringent emissions and energy consumption reduction targets. Since failure to meet these targets could result in severe financial reprimands for the countries involved, the need for greater energy efficiency is essential – particularly for the transport sector, which consumes over 32% of the total EU-27 energy usage each year. Whilst urban rail is one of the most efficient transport methods, it is nonetheless a huge consumer of energy; the London Underground, for example, consumes more than 1 TWh of electricity annually. Furthermore, as urbanisation continues, so will the level of energy consumed. As such, the sector has been the focus of a drive towards more energy efficient technologies and operational methods which can, collectively, help to significantly reduce the energy consumption of an urban rail system and increase the level of energy independence within the EU. However, whilst many of these technologies and methods have clear and proven advantages and are now widely available, they often remain unexploited. This can be attributed to an uncertainty of the technologies stemming from a lack of knowledge thereof, leading to an unwillingness to invest. Since the capacity of many of these technologies is expanding year-on-year, a much greater transfer of knowledge between all stakeholders is required. This paper analyses the main barriers to the widespread implementation of energy efficient technologies within urban rail systems, which can be linked to the conflicting social, political, economic and environmental requirements regarding energy efficiency. These requirements are analysed to determine how energy efficient technologies can be introduced in a way that is mutually beneficial for all the stakeholders involved (i.e. the transport operators, the local and national government and the general public). Case studies of urban rail systems throughout the world which have been successful in producing a socially-accepted, energy efficient and, most importantly, an economically viable solution are also investigated. These help contribute to the recommendations made by the paper which can then be used to aid the sustainable development of urban rail systems worldwide.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Batty P, Palacin R, Gonzalez-Gil A, Jackson R

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 10th World Congress on Railway Research - WCRR 2013

Year of Conference: 2013

Date deposited: 01/03/2014

Publisher: WCRR