Energy efficiency helps to slow down climate change

Climate change is continuing. Among the most important factors helping to slow down climate change are better energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

By 2020, the aim of the VR Group is to improve the energy efficiency of train traffic by 20 per cent and to increase the proportion of renewable energy to more than 60 per cent of the Group's overall energy consumption.

The environmental awareness generated by climate change offers growth potential for public transport, and especially for environmentally friendly rail services. At the same time, extreme weather phenomena associated with climate change will become more frequent and will cause disruptions in traffic. Emissions trading and higher energy taxes will lead to higher energy prices.

 

The electricity purchased by the VR Group is generated by means of hydropower

The origin of the electricity is safeguarded with guarantees of origin. As the electricity purchased under the previous contract was also generated by hydropower, there has not been any change in the amount of indirect greenhouse gases.

The groupage logistics business of VR Transpoint was sold in autumn 2012. As a result, the consumption of fossil fuels decreased, which led to a reduction in the direct greenhouse gas emissions generated by road traffic.

The additional buses and coaches of Pohjolan Liikenne were converted into vehicles that use biodiesel. Annual consumption was approximately 800,000 litres, or 7.4 per cent of the total volume.

The percentage of electric traction of the overall train traffic remained unchanged. The electrification work on the section between Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi was completed in March 2014.

The new maintenance depot in Oulu relies on ground heat for heating. Lighting is based on energy efficient LED technology. The melting water of the trains is also recycled and its heat recovered.

 

Continuous improvements in energy efficiency

The aim of the VR Group is to improve the energy efficiency of train traffic by 20 per cent. The energy efficiency of other operations will also be improved.

The proportion of electric traction, capacity utilisation and filling rates, shunting, empty trains and economic driving as well as the properties of the rolling stock are the factors influencing the energy efficiency of the train traffic.

The performance of the rail passenger services increased by 0.4 per cent, which led to a slight improvement in energy efficiency. A number of the diesel aggregates on restaurant cars were removed and replaced with inverters fed by the trains' power supply.

The average size of a freight train increased by 3.4 per cent to 1,363 tonnes. Shunting work was at the previous year's levels, but there was a slight increase in the proportion of electric traction.

Economic driving training for train and road vehicle drivers continued. Pohjolan Liikenne purchased 57 new Euro VI buses for the Helsinki region and eight Euro V coaches for other services. A total of seven motor cars were purchased for change of drivers. Three of them were electric cars and four were hybrid vehicles.

Direct energy consumption amounted to 2.42 PJ, and the main sources were light fuel oil, diesel oil and natural gas. Consumption of indirect energy (electricity and heat) totalled 3.17 PJ. Total energy consumption decreased by 8.5 per cent, which was mainly due to a drop in the fuel consumption in road logistics.

VR Group has joined the Finnish energy efficiency agreements for public transport and freight transport, in which the target is to reduce energy consumption by nine per cent by 2016. VR Transpoint’s rail logistics has achieved this target well ahead of the deadline.

 

Heating and lighting of properties as part of energy efficiency

Rail and road services account for about four-fifths of the VR Group’s total energy consumption. The remaining one-fifth is mainly consumed in the heating and lighting of buildings and by track maintenance equipment.

Tests with light fittings have been carried out at a number of locations, and the property technology will be updated on a long-term basis so that consideration is given to the life cycles of the equipment and machinery. When selecting and purchasing new equipment, the focus is on life cycle costs and energy efficiency.

Metering and remote reading at properties has been increased and building automation has been upgraded so that the monitoring and steering can be done in real time and any deviations can be dealt with more quickly.

Opportunities to use renewable energy will be examined in connection with renovations and new investments. Oil-heated facilities will be systematically converted into facilities that use other systems. The aim is to give up oil heating by 2020.

The aim is to reduce the amount of energy used to heat properties by 20 per cent and the amount of electricity by 30 per cent from 2012 levels by the year 2020. In 2013, the amount of energy used to heat properties totalled 147 GWh, which was 3.3 per cent less than in 2012. In 2013, the amount of electricity consumed by properties totalled 41.4 GWh, which was 1.4 per cent less than in 2012.

 

Outlook

Important factors to consider when increasing the proportion of electric rail services are the purchase of new electric locomotives and track electrification. Competitive tendering for the purchase of electric locomotives was completed in December. The first of the new electric locomotives will enter service in 2017. The Finnish Transport Agency is responsible for track electrification. Electric trains will start running between Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi in March 2014. The decision to electrify the line between Ylivieska and Iisalmi has been made and the work will begin in 2015.

In the next few years, the VR Group will put more focus on energy efficient driving in rail traffic. In addition to the driving of trains, consideration will also be given to traffic planning and steering. Locomotives will also be fitted with technology supporting economic driving, and drivers will be better placed to drive economically since they can take more account of traffic conditions.

Properties will be made more energy efficient by replacing oil heating with other forms of energy, by increasing the number of LED and other energy efficient lighting systems, and by increasing the proportion of remote control and monitoring devices in property technology.