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The Matterhorn Gotthard Railway and sustainability

Together for tomorrow’s world

The Matterhorn Gotthard Railway regularly implements projects so that rail operations can be made more resource efficient. In construction projects, the sustainability aspect in terms of energy efficiency is taken into account during the planning phase.

A mountain water source from the Furka tunnel for creating warmth

About 600 liters/min. of mountain water flows from a plentiful spring in the centre of the Furka tunnel. Via further mountain watercourses within the tunnel, the water volume at the Oberwald portal reaches 5,400 liters/min. The 14.4km-long Furka tunnel, which opened in 1982, has a constant, year-round temperature of around 16°C.

Some of this water has been flowing through a pipeline to Oberwald since 1993 and heats part of the village there using decentralized heat pumps. The district heating network warms 209 apartments, a hotel, the school building, the fire station, the station buffet and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn depot. The heating capacity is 1,169 kWh and the amount of energy produced per year is about 3,000 MWh.

Around 738 tons of CO₂ can thus be saved annually.

Energy-efficient rolling stock

For the construction of the new ORION trains energy-efficiency was an important consideration. An on-demand, air-conditioning and heating control system regulates the supply of fresh air for the passengers. In the passenger compartments fresh air from outside is only supplied when the CO₂ content exceeds a certain level. This reduces the energy consumption for heating.

New Orion multiple unit of the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway at Brig train station

In addition, air-cooled transformers are used in these new vehicles. These have a considerably higher efficiency compared with oil-cooled transformers.

Power recuperation on the Gornergrat

All vehicles on the Gornergrat Bahn are equipped with asynchronous machines as traction motors. The surplus energy produced on a downhill trip is fed back into the power system so that trains travelling uphill can then make use of the excess power. Three trains travelling downhill are able to supply electricity for one or two trains travelling uphill. This is known as recuperation, and since the first trip on August 20, 1898, the Gornergrat Railway has been operating with this power-replenishing system.

Saving energy thanks to modern points-heating and signals

Modern point-heating systems are employed in around 80 % of the points. These are switched on or off via a control system, which depends on the surrounding humidity and temperature. Thanks to the measurement of temperature, precipitation and wind, the heating is only switched on when required, at exactly the right time. This not only saves energy, but also prevents line disruptions caused by blocked points. The new point heating systems consume 45-50% less electricity On the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway line, the signals’ lighting is gradually being converted to LEDs. LED lighting increases their service life, especially the life of the light sources. A service life now of 15 years is five times longer than previously.

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