An important European Commission (EC) clean energy regulation has been widened to encourage EU member states to roll-out clean energy infrastructure on the rail network.
The EC’s Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) originally included mandatory deployment targets for electric recharging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for the road, maritime and inland ports detectors, as well as electricity supply to stationary aircraft. Now, it also includes rail.
The move is designed to speed progress on EU Green Deal objectives, a set of EC policy initiatives whose aim is to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.
The European rail supply-industry, operators and infrastructure managers have welcomed EU efforts to help the rail sector move towards decarbonisation, with the deployment of alternative-fuel infrastructure for rail, reports railfreight-com.
Under the regulation change, EU member states can assess the development of alternative fuel technologies and propulsion systems for rail sections that cannot be fully electrified for technical or cost-efficiency reasons. This includes provisions for hydrogen and battery-electric trains, and also covers refuelling and recharging infrastructure needs.
New EC regulation prompts progress on clean rail energy
Member States are required to provide an overview by 2025 of progress of planned infrastructure initiatives including targets, milestones and financing details for hydrogen or battery-electric trains on rail segments that cannot be electrified.
At present, 80% of train-kilometres in Europe run on electric energy, a growing part of which comes from renewable sources. However, just 54% of the European rail network is currently electrified.
The move has been welcomed by key rail bodies in Europe, including the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), an umbrella organisation for 75 EU railway infrastructure companies.
“European railway and infrastructure companies look forward to national plans to deploy alternative fuels to rail. In the short-run,” CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola told railfreight.com.
Mazzola did strike a note of caution, however, adding: “However, rail’s operating costs – and in particular, electricity costs – need to be carefully assessed. Support measures are needed to make sure that rail’s intermodal competitiveness is not hampered and that a shift to diesel traction is avoided.”
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