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In practice, freight transport by rail turns out to be less clean and economical than expected. Diesel locomotives that are used for shunting, for example in the port, are idling more than three quarters of the time in practice. This idle, i.e. unloaded, turn is responsible for more than 10% of the total CO2 emissions and more than half of the total NOx emissions. The energy consumption of electric locomotives also does not seem as low as is generally assumed. In the worst cases, that is, contrary to expectations, comparable to transport with a truck.

This is shown by TNO research into the practical use and the CO2 and NOx emissions from rail freight transport. Connect and the Top Sector Logistics commissioned TNO to measure an electric locomotive and two diesel locomotives as part of the Factor6 program. Never before have locomotives been monitored for this. For freight traffic on the road, practical emissions have fallen considerably in recent years. But not yet for so-called Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), such as inland vessels, construction machinery and rail freight transport. TNO is involved in various measurement programs to gain insight, for the first time, into the actual emissions of these types of vehicles in daily use.

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Diesel locomotives on shunting yards in practice run more than three quarters of the time. This idling is necessary to keep the brake system of the train under pressure. NOx emissions for stationary use are up to three times higher than for active use. The CO2 emissions, which are directly linked to diesel consumption, also form a relevant share of the total at a standstill (10 to 15%). The legislation for locomotives is lagging behind the legislation for trucks. Because the lifetime of a diesel locomotive is thirty years old, this problem of high emissions still plays a long time. This has negative consequences for air quality in and near ports and marshalling yards.



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