Estonia-based railway logistics firm Operail has launched a LNG freight locomotive as part of its sustainability efforts.

The company converted an American General Electric C36 locomotive to enable dual-fuel operations.

The scope of the works, conducted at Operail’s Tapa depot, involved the reconstruction of the locomotive’s diesel fuel tank, installation of LNG tanks, as well as other systems.

According to Operail, the vehicle is the first LNG freight locomotive in the Baltics and the neighbouring region.

The locomotive will now undergo a phase of tuning, testing and certification before it commences freight services.

Operail board chairman Raul Toomsalu said: “The LNG freight locomotive is one of our focus projects in making rail transport, which is already environment-friendly, even more sustainable.

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“We hope to see the expected positive result in terms of reduced emissions after the performance of the necessary tests and analyses, and we are planning to gradually transfer our other heavy freight locomotives to LNG as well.”

According to the company, the dual locomotive is expected to commence freight transportation this autumn.

During the locomotive’s five-month construction period, other systems and contemporary security equipment were also installed to improve safety.

Tapa Depot managing director Mihhail Sinani said: “The locomotive now uses two kinds of fuel, which means that it can be powered by diesel as well as LNG. This will help us reduce our fuel costs by 30%. The machine emits 20% less carbon dioxide and as much as 70% less sulphur oxide into the air.”

The LNG freight locomotive will now be equipped with sensors to determine the quantity of emissions for a comprehensive analysis of environmental impacts.

Sinani added: “This will be followed by the preparation of the documents required for the certification of the new locomotive type, tests, and test drives on our local infrastructure, as well as on the public railroad.”