The Province of Friesland had made it clear that it would like to see all regional diesel trains converted to run on electricity alone
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The alternative to an electric conversion- that the trains could run on batteries- has been found to be technologically impossible to achieve. This development means that the trains will stay running on diesel until 2035 at the earliest, according to the Friesch Dagblad.
Electrification of the three regional train lines (Leeuwarden-Groningen, Leeuwarden-Harlingen, and Leeuwarden-Stavoren) has been stuck in the design phase for several years. In 2017, the Northern provinces decided to undertake new research into the proposal, following the decision of the Provinciale Staten assembly to make all public transport zero-emissions.
The year after, the province made a provisional choice to use battery-run trains, as an alternative to putting in new overhead-wires. Battery-run trains can be a significant amount cheaper, too, according to research by both Arcadis and Ricardo Rail (both of which work with battery-run train technology). These two bureaus warned, however, of the technical difficulties in bringing about a wholesale change to battery trains, and suggested that 2035 would be a realistic date to achieve this by, but the Provinciale Staten stuck to its 2025 target.
But the company Arriva, which runs the line, has let it be known that refurbishing trains can only be done after they have been running for 12 years. This, and other technological issues led Deputy Avine Fokkens of the Province of Friesland to also become convinced that the project is ruinously impractical. Arriva’s franchise runs until 2035, and by that point its trains will have another 10 years of use.
Achieving emission-free train transport is now a target for the province for 2035. In a letter to the Provinciale Staten, Fokkens points out that the new franchise on the line, which will take effect in December next year, saves ‘considerable’ on CO2 emissions. Eighteen new trains will run on biodiesel, and use braking energy.
IMAGE: an Arriva train, via Wikimedia user Jan Oosterhuis