An Analysis of Fossil-free Alternatives for Swedish railway

University essay from KTH/Transportplanering; KTH/Transportplanering

Abstract: The transport sector is a major contributor to the rise in global temperatures and emissions. The use of fossil fuel being one of the main drivers, most modes of transport are looking at alternatives to the limited and environmentally unsustainable fuels. Despite the railway sector being considered the more ‘green’ alternative mode of transport as compared to other modes like air, there exist more work that is required to make the railway sector as efficient and green as possible especially the significant percentage of the railway networks that are still non-electrified. These lines tend to be short, isolated and in some instances with seasonal traffic, hence there not being an urgent need to electrify. The cost of electrification is usually costly especially in terms of initial infrastructure development and alternatives are needed where the cost of electrification is not viable. The main objective of this report is to analyze the current fossil-free alternatives that are available or soon to be available on the market and determine which alternative is suitable for a specific non-electrified line considering factors such as cost, impact to the environment and the long-term strategy. As this is a complex analysis, the authors of this report will utilize the analytical hierarchical process (AHP) model to determine the most suitable choice for each line. The AHP model is one of the multicriteria methods developed to deconstruct complex situations into simple levels with the first level containing the goal: determining the viability of a fossil-free alternative that may be suitable for a particular railway line using the various criteria and sub-criteria. The results differed along the various railway lines with Fryksdalsbanan, Tjustbanan, HällnäsLycksele, Kinnekullebanan and Vaggerydsbanan having battery-operated trains as the optimal choice while the Mellerud-Bengtsfors, Stångådalsbanan, both Inlandsbanan (North and South), HalmstadNässjö, Bockabanan and Nässjö-Vetlanda favoring the hydrogen-fueled trains. In conclusion, both the battery-operated and hydrogen-fueled trains are viable options on the short, low-demand railway lines while the electric trains and diesel-fueled trains are expensive and environmentally unsuitable, respectively. 

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