Gas turbine carrier makes series of experimental trips with heavy trains along Surgut – Limbey – Korotchaevo section
In July 2018, Russia’s first serially manufactured gas turbine locomotive, the GT1h-002, made two experimental trips with freight trains of increased weight and length on the Surgut – Limbey – Korotchaevo section at Sverdlovsk Railways.
In the course of the experiment, it was necessary to confirm the correct calculation for the siting of the servicing depots and filling stations for gas engine locomotives in the north of the Urals Federal District and in addition to determine the critical (maximum) mass of freight trains for the GT1h series gas turbine locomotives at the specified section.
The GT1h-002, an improved version of the GT1h-001, is officially included in the locomotive fleet of Sverdlovsk Railways and is in permanent use to haul trains, including formations with increased weights and lengths, on the Yegorshino – Alapaevsk – Serov – Sortirovochny section.
In addition, this innovative locomotive is taking part in tests aimed at achieving a gradual implementation of the "Agreement on the Use of Natural Gas as a Motor Fuel concluded by Russian Railways, PJSC Gazprom and Railway Equipment Manufacturers."
On July 21-25 2018, during the first experimental trip on the 636 km Surgut – Limbey – Korotchaevo section, it became possible to haul trains weighing up to 7,000 tons along this section using GT1h type locomotives without refuelling.
Within the framework of the second experiment, which was carried out on 29-30 July, a gas turbine trail proceeded along the 532-km Limbey – Surgut section carrying freight weighing more than 9,000 tons. The train was formed on the access railways of the Purovsky Condensate Processing Plant. The trip confirmed the possibility of operating gas engine locomotives with trains of 9,000 tons on the Limbay – Surgut section without refuelling.
Fuel for both experimental trips was more than sufficient by quite a margin, which also confirms that the preliminary calculations for the locations of locomotive refuelling points running on liquefied natural gas were correct. The refuelling points are slated for Voinovka, Tobolsk and Surgut stations, but so far the only such complex in operation is near Yekaterinburg.
On 15 February 2018, Russian Railways, Gazprom, the Sinara Group and Transmashholding signed a programme of joint measures to implement the "Agreement on Cooperation between the Companies on the Use of Natural Gas as a Motor Fuel."
The purpose of the joint activities is to expand the geographical range of locomotive operations for engines running on liquefied natural gas on non-electrified sections of Sverdlovsk Railways with an increased weight of freight trains to 9,000 tons.
The parties will work together to develop and improve the design of gas engine locomotives, develop the infrastructure for supplying liquefied natural gas to gas-powered locomotives, develop the infrastructure for servicing locomotives and prepare a regulatory and legal framework.
In accordance with the programme, by 2023 Russian Railways plans to increase the fleet of gas-fuelled main line gas turbine locomotives and shunting gas turbine engines operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a total of three now to 22 units.
With regard to refuelling gas turbine locomotives, Gazprom intends to build two low-tonnage LNG production complexes in the cities of Tobolsk and Surgut, as well as service depot for gas engine locomotives at Voinovka and Surgut stations.
In 2018, PJSC NOVATEK confirmed its willingness to participate in the gasification programme of the Voinovka – Surgut – Limbay section. Under consideration in particular is the possibility of constructing an LNG production facility at the Purovsky Condensate Processing Plant, as well as a service depot for gas engine locomotives at the Zavodskaya railway station, which is adjacent to Limbay station on Sverdlovsk Railways.
Within the framework of the pilot phase between 2013 and 2019, gas turbine locomotives are being operated at the 302-km Yegorshino-Serov-Sortirovochnyi section with trains of increased weight and length and a TEM19 shunting gas turbine at Yegorshino station.
During the first stage from 2020 to 2022, it is planned to organise trains with a weight of up to 9,000 tons on the 222-km Voinovka – Tobolsk section, as well as to operate shunting gas-turbine locomotives at Yegorshino, Voinovka and Tobolsk stations.
From 2023 to 2025, the range of driving trains with a weight of up to 9,000 tons with gas engine locomotives will be extended to 1,097 km (Yegorshino-Serov-Sortirovochnyi and Voinovka-Tobolsk-Surgut). Gas turbine shunting locomotives will serve Surgut station.
In the future, it will be possible to expand the range of operations of locomotives with gas engines to Limbey station, while after the construction of the Northern Latitudinal Railway, which will connect the Sverdlovsk and Northern railways, the range will increase yet further to 5,500 km.
The main advantage of gas turbine locomotives compared to other types of locomotives is their ability to develop considerable power with relatively small dimensions and weight. Even at its full design load, the GT1h can reach speeds of up to 100 kph.
Gas turbine locomotives operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG), a fuel which meets the highest environmental standards. The exhaust emissions of the gas turbine engine comply with the European Euro-5 ecological standard, while the level of external noise is under the current sanitary standards of the Russian Federation.