DB Schenker Rail UK has announced it is the first rail freight operator in the country to introduce electric shunting units.
The battery operated units are part of DB Schenker Rail UK’s environmental improvements and will be used across its maintenance depots at Crewe and Toton, where almost 14,000 locomotive moves are undertaken each year.
It is estimated that the electric shunters, known as Zephir 1800e CRAB machines, will reduce CO2 emissions by 649 tonnes each year.
The Zephir 1800e CRAB machine is capable of pulling or pushing 400 tonnes with a maximum drawbar pull of 20KN in the dry and 16KN in the wet, meaning in the dry the unit will be capable of moving up to three Class 66 locomotives at a time.
Until recently all DB Schenker Rail UK depots used diesel shunting locomotives to move the wagons and locomotives around the depots for maintenance.
In September, the company decommissioned the majority of its Class 08 shunting fleet, using main line locos to undertake shunting work where required, to reduce emissions and increase efficiency.
The next phase was to identify alternatives to the fleet, leading to the introduction of the electric shunters at Toton and Crewe in April 2015.
As well as the environmental improvements, the electric shunters also provide safety benefits as they increase visibility and require less human interaction for example in coupling operations. Decreasing prolonged exposure to noise within the depot and reducing the amount of exhaust emissions also ensures a better working environment for employees.
Andrew Byrne, Head of Maintenance and Infrastructure for DB Schenker Rail UK, said: “Rail freight is already considered to be a more environmentally friendly mode of transport than road, but we still actively seek ways to reduce the organisation’s environmental footprint even further.
“We look forward to seeing the long-term benefits that the electric shunters will provide and are proud to be the first rail freight operator in the UK to introduce them.”