All aboard world’s first biogas train

The world's first train to run on biogas, a renewable energy source made up of organic waste, made its maiden voyage in Sweden on Monday.

“The train left on time, at 2:32 pm,” said Peter Unden, head of marketing at Svensk Biogas, the company that owns the train.

The train which links the city of Linköping, just south of Stockholm, to the east coast town of Västervik some 80km away, is scheduled to make one trip a day to begin with, “but our ambition is that it will eventually make two or more,” Unden told AFP by telephone from the moving train.

Consisting of a single carriage that seats about 60 passengers, the vehicle consists of a converted old Fiat train whose diesel engines have been replaced by two Volvo gas engines.

Replacing the engine has made the train more environmentally friendly, since the combustion of biogas, like other biofuels, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Svensk Biogas chief Carl Lilliehöök told AFP last June when the train was inaugurated.

The engine “does not run on regular fuel, but on renewable energy … This is a very good way of providing a sustainable transport system,” Unden said on Monday.

Another advantage is that biogas, unlike oil, does not create a dependence on imports from other countries.

“Communities can build their own production and this helps create jobs,” he said.

Biogas is made up of shredded plant materials and animal waste, which are then mixed with water in a tank. Once the waste has decomposed, a gas is formed that can be stored and used as fuel.

Another plus with running on biogas is that the engines make less noise than most other trains, Unden insisted.

The train is equipped with 11 canisters containing enough gas to run for 600km before needing a refill, and can reach a maximum speed of 130km/h.

As the train chugged out of the Linköping station on Monday, Unden said he was thrilled at the “opportunity to show that this is something that works”, adding that several other countries have voiced interest in the project.

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