ScotRail stands to save more than a million litres of fuel a year from a technological breakthrough that could be copied worldwide.
A new computer-controlled pump on trains promises to cut the amount of diesel used following an industry-first trial in Scotland.
It has been developed by Edinburgh firm Artemis Intelligent Power, which has calculated the device could reduce fuel consumption by 1.5 million litres a year on one of ScotRail’s fleets alone.
That’s the equivalent of 6 per cent of the 24.5 million litres a year used by its Class 170 trains on routes such as the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line and between the two cities and Aberdeen and Inverness.
A single carriage of one of the three-coach trains was used for the trial.
Tom Smith, project engineer for the ScotRail Alliance with Network Rail, said: “The installation of this new hydraulic pump is a great milestone in the development of sustainable technology, and a rail industry first. The Artemis pump has re-imagined the traditional mechanical control of pistons and has the potential to save over 9,000 litres of fuel per train carriage each year.
“Using technology to digitally control the pistons means we are able to consume fuel much more efficiently by only using it when needed, similar to turning the lights in the house off when they’re not being used.”
Artemis said it hoped the technology would be used in trains across Scotland, and potentially worldwide.
Managing director Dr Niall Caldwell said: “It is enormously expensive to electrify our train lines and it is just not practical in many rural locations in Scotland and globally.
“Diesel will be with us for many decades, so we have focused on a technology which can be readily adopted and make a big impact now.
“Most modern diesel trains rely on a hydraulic unit to power each carriage’s cooling fans and generate electricity, which together use up around 10-15 per cent of the engine’s fuel.
“We have made a new type of digital hydraulic pump, which uses computer-controlled valves to switch the pump’s cylinders off when not needed.
“This means the pump is much more controllable and efficient, and can give significant fuel savings.”