Electric rail wagons to make tunnel works cleaner

Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel is currently prototyping independent battery-operated works wagons that can move within the tunnel without producing diesel fumes.

Although regular cross-Channel passenger and freight trains use electric traction, the wagons carrying staff and equipment for maintenance operations are hauled by diesel locomotives. As these are the same Krupps-built locomotives that are used as 'Thunderbirds' to rescue trains that fail in service, they are oversized for their maintenance role and described by Eurotunnel as "highly polluting" in this task.

In consequence, the company has been looking at alternatives that would allow power consumption to be adapted to the workload, in the interests of energy efficiency and reduced emissions.

A project part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund has targeted the provision of 50kW electric motors for seven wagons, which can be formed into a train to travel from their base to the works site and then be uncoupled to move independently in the tunnel.

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