Romain Bosquet, Olivier Cazier

Last modified: 2017-02-28


Worldwide, about 30% of the final energy and 62% of final oil is consumed by the transport sector. Reducing global fuel consumptions is one of the highest priorities for all countries for both energy security and greenhouse gas emission implications. With globalization, transport of goods increased significantly and then pressure on the environment. If the departure and arrival of the goods are on the same continent, transportation can be done by air, road or rail. Between this three means of transport, it is usual to consider that rail freight transportation allows reducing energy consumption per ton transported. United States and Europe have developed an important railway system to transport goods and people. These two systems are very different in terms of infrastructure, rolling stock and operation. They are specialized; the American in freight transportation while the European in people transportation. In a first part of this article, these differences are compared and analyzed. Then, a well-to-wheel reasoning is carried out on various types convoy (container or bulk) in Europe and US. Length, mass, propulsion, train resistance, speed, track profile, gauge, electricity generation etc. are taken into account. Train is modeled as a point with a mass. Newton’s second law is applied on this point. The total force to the drive wheels provided by the electric motor is computed by a dynamic simulation. Finally, US and Europe rail freight are compared with an energy per ton transported indicator. This energy comparison shows the advantages of the American system on the environment despite the use of diesel locomotive.


rail freight, energy, well-to-wheel, Europe, United States

Full Text: PDF