Saving energy: Irish Rail

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

Rail trackIrish Rail announced earlier this month that they will be introducing new measures to save energy, and therefore reduce their fuel bills. The steps already implemented have reduced energy usage by a third. In fact, so impressed were the French National Rail Company, SNCF, that they sent some of their officials to investigate, see more here. Irish Rail intend to extend the cost cutting measures this year, a list of the proposed changes is contained in their press release, here. The most controversial change is the planned reduction in the size of trains (less carriages) during off peak times.

Some very easy savings. However I feel that there was some really easy savings which were just waiting to be made. One example is the practice of leaving train engines idling. This is something I always notice when getting on/off the train in Heuston Station, Dublin. There is usually one, and sometimes more, trains left unmanned but with the engine running. Not only is this wasteful but it also fills the station with fumes. See photograph below of staining to the roof lights in the Station as a result of this wasteful practice. Yes, some very low hanging fruit is still waiting to be picked.

Heuston Station Dublin. Smoke stains from idling train engines
Heuston Station Dublin. Smoke stains caused by idling train engines

Strange though it may seem, it was standard practice to leave some locomotive engines running all night. This was to prevent the possibility that they wouldn’t start in the morning. There was a court case many years ago relating to the impact of the noise from one of these engines on a nearby hotel in Sligo. See link here.

So while its great to find that Irish Rail are finally trying to stop wasteful practices. It is hard to think of any other company that would have waited this long to make these changes. Could you imagine anyone else leaving their engines running all night just in case they wouldn’t start in the morning?

Having said all that, I wish Irish Rail the best of luck with their energy saving plans. I hope they can continue to make savings without affecting customer service. However my train home at rush hour on Friday evening was three carriages instead of the usual six! It was over crowded as a result. I hope this isn’t a taste of the future….

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