Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

A systems approach to reduce urban rail energy consumption

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



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


There is increasing interest in the potential of urban rail to reduce the impact of metropolitan transportationdue to its high capacity, reliability and absence of local emissions. However, in a contextcharacterised by increasing capacity demands and rising energy costs, and where other transport modesare considerably improving their environmental performance, urban rail must minimise its energy usewithout affecting its service quality. Urban rail energy consumption is defined by a wide range ofinterdependent factors; therefore, a system wide perspective is required, rather than focusing on energysavings at subsystem level. This paper contributes to the current literature by proposing an holisticapproach to reduce the overall energy consumption of urban rail. Firstly, a general description of thistransport mode is given, which includes an assessment of its typical energy breakdown. Secondly, a comprehensiveappraisal of the main practices, strategies and technologies currently available to minimise itsenergy use is provided. These comprise: regenerative braking, energy-efficient driving, traction lossesreduction, comfort functions optimisation, energy metering, smart power management and renewableenergy micro-generation. Finally, a clear, logical methodology is described to optimally define andimplement energy saving schemes in urban rail systems. This includes general guidelines for a qualitativeassessment and comparison of measures alongside a discussion on the principal interdependencesbetween them. As a hypothetical example of application, the paper concludes that the energy consumptionin existing urban rail systems could be reduced by approximately 25–35% through the implementationof energy-optimised timetables, energy-efficient driving strategies, improved control of comfortfunctions in vehicles and wayside energy storage devices

Publication metadata

Author(s): González-Gil A, Palacin R, Batty P, Powell JP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Energy Conversion and Management

Year: 2014

Volume: 80

Pages: 509-524

Print publication date: 01/04/2014

Online publication date: 22/02/2014

Acceptance date: 30/01/2014

Date deposited: 22/09/2014

ISSN (print): 0196-8904

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2227

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.enconman.2014.01.060


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
FP7-284868Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research