WIT Press

Increasing railway energy efficiency: a three-level method


Free (open access)


Volume 1 (2017), Issue 3



Page Range

491 - 500

Paper DOI



WIT Press


R.M. Paulussen, G.F. Ten Harve, T. Ploeg & A. Zoeteman


Energy efficiency in railway operation has been a topic of high interest for years. Lowering energy costs can make railway operation not only more sustainable, but also more competitive towards other modalities. Energy efficiency can be reached in two ways: system efficiency and operational efficiency. Innovation can be found in combining the right system measures with the right operational measures. Introducing the right system measures can even lead to energy efficiency independent of operational strategies, such as coasting and regenerative braking.

Rail infra providers struggle with the question which innovations – system, operational or both – will bring them closer to their targets. To determine which measures will contribute best, the authors developed a new universal method based on energy efficiency at three levels: individual rolling stock performance, rolling stock performance in networks and operational strategies.

The authors used this three-level method to study the energy efficiency effect of a system change from the current 1,500 VDC to a 3 kVDC traction power supply system, including operational strategies. The results of the study revealed that in the Netherlands this system change will result in a return on investment (ROI) within 15 years and a reduction of energy consumption ranging up to 20%.


energy efficiency, return on investment, simulation study, social cost–benefit analysis, system changeover