UK: "Smart Meters" for Train Fleets

A train operating company has become the first in the UK to equip its entire electric fleet with meters motoring energy use.

London Midland said the new system would allow it to shave up to £15 million off its electricity bill and could also reduce its annual carbon emissions by around 20,000 tons.

Train operating companies have traditionally bought electricity from Network Rail using a billing system that estimates the amount of energy used to power trains and then redistributes any difference back to the firms.

Under its new system, London Midland will now pay only for the electricity that it uses, and will also have information to help it reduce its energy consumption.

At the same time, the train company is also looking to work with its drivers and other staff to make the most of the electricity they use, in the same way that car drivers can ''maximise'' a tank of petrol.

The programme's director, Mike Haigh, said daily meter readings from London Midland's 100-strong electric train fleet would now be provided to Network Rail, who will issue an actual rather than an estimated bill.

Explaining how the scheme would help to cut energy usage, Mr Haigh added: ''If we know how much electricity we are using, we can start to manage that usage.

''We don't just want to be billed differently - we want to do things differently.

''Everyone in the rail industry is aware of the current need to make savings and this is an example of an early start we are making to invest in technology to reduce our costs and our carbon emissions.

''Just as 'smart meters' are starting to help us make intelligent decisions about using energy at home, our trains should be no different.''

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