While a large part of Europe's railway lines are electrified, a significant portion rely on diesel traction to operate. As such, the European Rail Industry works to make rail diesel cleaner.

In Europe 50% of railway lines are electrified and 80% of traffic is done with electric traction. Nevertheless, diesel traction plays an important role for rail transport in Europe. This is for instance the case in member states where electrification is below the European average or for shunting operations and passenger and freight transport on non-electrified secondary and feeder lines where traffic would be impossible without diesel traction.

Diesel traction is a very small and complex niche market. Progress on the on engine technology depends to a large degree on the development of new engines by the engine manufactures and as a large fleet of diesel locomotives exists, the big operators seem reluctant to invest in newer and cleaner ones.

Despite this difficult environment, the rail industry works on making rail diesel cleaner. The CleanER-D project brought together several rail manufacturers, such as Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens, and Vossloh, as well as other partners from the rail sector including DB and SNCF, to reduce pollutant emissions of diesel.

A large step towards reducing emissions was made with the introduction of Stage IIIB for rail vehicles in 2012. Despite the difficult economic climate, the rail industry made great efforts to offer its customers the cleanest diesel trains and locomotives ever. However, due to the high development costs and due to the non-availability of engines, for some power categories no IIIB-compliant vehicles are available at present.

In the context of diesel traction, UNIFE closely follows the Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive. Having just come out of a major regulation which still needs to be fully implemented, the European rail industry believes that no new stage should be set for rail vehicles for the next seven years. 


For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Nguyen
Public Affairs Manager
+32 2 431 04 60