Costs and regulations are driving replacement of ageing locos

Costs and regulations are driving replacement of ageing locos

Frost & Sullivan’s new “Strategic Analysis of Alternative Powertrain Technologies in the European Diesel Locomotive and Railcar Market”, finds that 10,862 diesel locomotives and 9,314 diesel railcars (new orders and replacements combined) are expected to be delivered by 2020 across Europe.

“The increasing operational and maintenance costs of an ageing fleet are pushing operators to place orders for new rolling stock, allowing for the replacement of locomotives and railcars that are close to retirement,” notes Frost & Sullivan research analyst Shyam Raman. The analysis has identified 2,326 diesel locomotives in France and Germany alone that are nearing or have crossed 40 years of service.”

The average age of all diesel locomotives in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK is approximately 37 years. There are 10,298 diesel locomotives in these countries that have been in active service for more than 30 years. As fuel costs have risen sharply in recent years, operators and leasing companies are aiming to procure the most energy-efficient and economic rolling stock in their fleet.

“Manufacturers feel that the cost of retrofitting a locomotive with a new engine, transmission and control systems is almost the same as purchasing a new state-of-the-art current generation locomotive,” said Raman. “However, the biggest disconnect occurs between the demand for locomotives that the operators can afford and the supply that the manufacturers can deliver,” he added.

The major challenge faced by the diesel rolling stock industry is to accurately determine market size. Identification of market demand based on ageing stock, requirements and purchasing capabilities of budget-driven leasing agencies, operators and end users is a critical challenge for rail manufacturers.

To meet competition, manufacturers are offering new technologies in their rolling stock. It is expected that technologies like permanent magnet traction motors will become an industry standard by 2017. Manufacturers are incorporating new strategies in their business models as well.

“Standardisation of design platforms for locomotives and railcars has gained prominence, eliminating the need for individual designs,” concludes Raman. “They are being shipped off-the-shelf as they have now moved to modular concepts where changes in the product are made according to order requirements.”