Euskadi at the forefront of the decarbonisation of the railway sector in Europe


Euskotren, a public company belonging to the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government, the leading transport operator in the Basque Country, together with CAF Power & Automation, a leading technology company in traction, control and on-board energy storage solutions -belonging to the CAF Group-, have achieved an important milestone in the strategy towards more sustainable transport. After reaching the first year of service of commuter trains incorporating cutting-edge electric traction semiconductors, the implementation of this technology contributes to paving the way towards decarbonisation, thanks to the significant increase in efficiency. According to the analyses carried out, the energy consumption of the new converter is 7% lower than the current one, with the expectation of being able to improve this value by up to 10%.

In this way, Euskotren has become the first European operator to incorporate Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology in passenger service. A technology developed in the Basque Country by CAF Power & Automation, which allows a significant increase in energy efficiency and a reduction in the size and weight of the power converters, which are responsible for transforming electrical energy into the power that drives the train's engines. All this combined with greater reliability and availability of the train, in turn reducing the usual maintenance costs. The railway unit involved in this project has travelled 191,974 kilometres, running on most of Euskotren's railway lines.

"Offering innovative and competitive technological solutions is one of our objectives", said Iñigo Balda, Managing Director of CAF P&A. "Thanks to the European Shif2Rail project, and with the collaboration of our technological partner IKERLAN, we have managed to be the first in Europe to apply this technology. This new traction equipment will enable significant energy savings as well as a reduction in weight, volume and acoustic noise, which will make it possible to increase train capacity in terms of both frequency and number of passengers".

Javier Seoane, General Manager of Euskotren, adds that "we are proud to collaborate in a European project such as Shif2Rail, one of the cornerstones of Euskotren's innovation strategy to position itself among the leading operators at the technological forefront, being focused on the increasing digitisation of our rolling stock, in order to have more efficient trains from the point of view of consumption, availability, performance and big-data applications. In its first 40 years of existence as a Public Company of the Basque Government, Euskotren has undergone an important evolution, in which the progressive modernisation of the rolling stock fleet has played a fundamental role". 

Cutting-edge Basque technology 
The Basque railway sector continues to promote latest generation technologies in order to create more energy efficient and lighter trains, which has led companies and research centres to position themselves as technological benchmarks in the sector. On this occasion, CAF Power & Automation, with the support of IKERLAN and the collaboration of Euskotren, has developed and tested the aforementioned silicon carbide semiconductors (SiC) in units during operation. 

It should be noted that CAF Power & Automation and the IKERLAN technology centre have been working side by side for more than a decade in the development of new technologies related to electric railway traction. In this case, collaboration in the research and development of this type of semiconductors has resulted in this innovative traction system, which allows a 32% reduction in the volume of the equipment, a 16% reduction in weight and 35% less losses during operation.

About CAF Power & Automation
CAF Power & Automation is a technological subsidiary of the CAF Group, a global benchmark in the design and manufacture of railway systems, which develops traction, control and communication solutions, and on-board energy storage, which are integrated in railway vehicles all over the world. The company has a workforce of more than 320 employees at its headquarters in San Sebastian, Irura and Madrid, as well as in India and the United States.

About Eusko Trenbideak-Ferrocarriles Vascos, S.A. (Euskotren)
Throughout its 40 years of existence, Euskotren has consolidated its position as the transport operator of reference in the Basque Country. By offering a public service based on quality, sustainability, efficiency and safety, it meets the travel needs of millions of people every year. The current management in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa of five inter-territorial railway lines and one underground line, the Larreineta funicular railway (Trapagaran, in Bizkaia), two tram services (Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz) and several bus lines (Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa) endorse Euskotren's trajectory. A firm commitment to public transport as the backbone of mobility in the Basque Country that is moving steadily towards the future, without forgetting all the small and big milestones that have made Euskotren what it is today. With the aim of preserving its history in order to set solid strategies for the future, Euskotren also manages the Basque Railway Museum located in Azpeitia (Gipuzkoa).