Polish rail freight operators shift to renewable energy

2022/08/18 at 12:02 PM

By 2025, several major railway undertakings in Poland will use only renewable energy when moving freight on electrified mainlines. It is CTL Logistics that has become the first rail freight operator in the country to use the energy generated from the sun and wind. Moreover, the Polish railway sector is committed to significantly reducing the consumption of energy in the coming years.

August 2022 is a crucial landmark in decarbonising the Polish rail freight sector since CTL Logistics, Poland’s major rail freight operator, signed a long-term agreement with PKP Energetyka, the energy supplier for the country’s railway undertakings. This will result in moving freight by the mentioned company with the help of renewable energy. According to the document, CTL Logistics will gradually increase the use of renewable energy in its everyday operations: this year 25 per cent of energy purchased by the company will be generated from the sun and wind, 50 per cent in 2023 and 100 per cent in 2025. The contract covers a period of up to 2030 with an option to extend it for three more years.

Container train of CTL Logistics in Poland, source: CTL Logistics

“100 per cent of green energy powering trains of CTL Logistics already in 2025 is not theory but practice and a very real implementation by our company of the country’s climate and energy policy,” noted Grzegorz Bogacki, CEO of CTL Logistics. His counterpart from PKP Energetyka, Wojciech Orzech, added that this development is very significant for Poland’s railway sector: “This agreement is an important step towards building an environmentally-friendly and competitive railway sector. Today, the use of renewable energy is not only an important factor increasing the attractiveness of the transport offer but also an important step that strengthens the security and energy independence of the railway sector”.

Green Railway programme

The agreement concluded by CTL Logistics and PKP Energetyka is the next step in the cooperation of both companies within the Green Railway programme, which is managed by PKP Energetyka and fully dedicated to the popularisation of renewable energy in Poland. In April 2021, both entities signed the letter of intent regarding the use and supply of renewable energy. “CTL Logistics is the first freight carrier to join the Green Railway programme,” added Wojciech Orzech. It is worth noting that it was the second railway undertaking in the country, after Łódź Agglomeration Railway, which focused solemnly on passenger transport.

CTL Logistics gradually moves to sustainable operations, source: CTL Logistics

In addition to CTL Logistics, several other Polish rail freight operators are also planning to use renewable energy. Among them are PKP Cargo, DB Cargo Polska, Captrain Polska, ECCO Rail, Transchem, LTE Polska and others. All of them signed the dedicated lists of intentions with PKP Energetyka, in which they have been committed to increasing the share of renewable energy in their operations and implementing environmentally-friendly solutions, mainly installing solar panels.

Energy-saving policy

Besides the use of renewable energy, the Polish railway sector, particularly the rail freight operators, is highly interested in reducing the volumes of consumed energy. To this end, the undertakings established the Centre for energy efficiency of railways (Centrum Efektywności Energetycznej Kolei or CEEK in Polish). The umbrella organisation brought together most of the key players of Poland’s railway industry, including PKP PLK, the country’s rail infrastructure manager, PKP Energetyka, passenger and freight carriers as well as educational and research institutions. Most of the rail freight undertakings supported the initiative.

According to CEEK, the Polish railway sector must consume 1.2 terawatt-hours less of the planned energy volume by 2030. This will reduce carbon footprint by 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Such an ambitious goal can be achieved in three ways. 600 gigawatts-hours of the planned volume is expected to be reduced by more efficient use of regenerative braking energy. 400 gigawatts-hours will be saved by implementing eco-driving and 200 gigawatts-hours due to more extensive use of solar energy for powering office buildings, workshops and other facilities of the railway companies.

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