Modernised locomotives, alternative for eco-friendly transportMar 22nd, 2012 | Category: Articles, Current Issue MT, March 12, Products & Technologies
Experts in the area believe that the decision to choose between locomotive refurbishment and acquisition of new vehicles has to be first of all made by identifying the objectives that need to be achieved through modernisation, such as reducing operation and maintenance costs, increasing capacity and performance, intensifying reliability and availability and environmental protection and safety aspects.
Solutions for rolling stock performance and cost reduction can be identified by procuring new equipments, such as energy saving costs, longer maintenance and safety periods.
Nevertheless, if railway operators don’t have enough equity to purchase new locomotives, the refurbishment alternative becomes viable by installing a new engine and eliminating obsolete composite materials that generate polluting emissions. The advantage in this case consists in getting a practically “new” product at much lower costs.
A simple analysis of the locomotive market dedicated to rail passenger transport shows that, in Western Europe, most orders to rail industry manufacturers are for new locomotives, while in South and South-Eastern Europe, there are more orders for locomotive refurbishment than for procurement of new locomotives. While planning the refurbishment of their rolling stock fleet, rail transport operators think first of all about costs. This applies also for the acquisition of locomotives, the main criterion being the lowest price offered.
In Western Europe, most operators prefer new vehicles instead of refurbished vehicles. This is the conclusion reached after taking an overall look at the evolution of the market in the last 10-15 years. Private railway operators began their activity 15 years ago, using old refurbished vehicles. However, almost all large operators in Western Europe currently use new vehicles, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to face the competition of state-owned operators. Most state-owned railway companies in Western Europe have modernised their vehicle fleet in the last 20 years.
In Eastern Europe, the market is still dominated by the refurbishment of old vehicles or the acquisition of second-hand vehicles at low costs, but which affect the investment budget in time because of the maintenance costs (which are 60% higher), spare parts or high energy consumption. The general trend should be more towards the acquisition of new vehicles, and not their refurbishment. Although the price paid for refurbishment is much lower than the price paid for the acquisition of new vehicles, the expenses made in time will most likely be higher compared to an initial investment in new rolling stock. The maintenance costs for refurbished or second-hand vehicles are very high and they only affect the operator’s financial status. In general, the life expectancy for locomotives is approximately 20 years, depending on service and maintenance schedules.
Nowadays a number of electric locomotives do not meet modern requirements for new generation technology both in profitability and reliability, and in locomotive crew operating conditions.
[ by Elena Ilie ]