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Image for learning opportunity Make rail freight green everywhere

Make rail freight green everywhere

Make rail freight green everywhere

How can we innovate and provide strategic technical solutions to make small scale freight operations green?

Our challenge

Rail freight is at a crossroads in the quest to reduce CO2 emissions. While the electrification of railway lines and the use of electric goods vehicles have been the go-to solutions, they fall short in non-mainline railways, particularly in freight train shunting at stations and on access roads where diesel traction still dominates. This limitation presents a unique challenge, especially in areas where electrification is impractical due to the small number of transported loads, unreasonably large investments in catenary network infrastructure, or due to the danger posed by the catenary network, especially where loading works are carried out (cranes, metal structures, warehouses, etc.). This is an opportunity to engage in a real-world problem, contributing to a greener future in freight transport. What if we could apply the innovative solutions used in passenger train traffic, like battery, hybrid (diesel + electricity/battery), or hydrogen-powered vehicles, to freight transport in these non-electrified areas? This is the challenge we pose to you. What would be the optimal solution, a technological/energy alternative in terms of railway lines, shunting works at stations or access roads, and cargo companies that also aim to reduce CO2 emissions and use sustainable technologies?

Study format
Application period
6 January – 25 February 2024
Study period
4 March – 3 June 2024
Hosting university
Kaunas University of Technology
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Learning outcomes

Pinpoint research direction

Self-sufficiently pinpoint a unique and impactful research direction, utilizing existing knowledge and acquired competencies.


Tackle real-world issues

Innovatively tackle complex real-world issues using the core tenets of challenge-based learning methodology.


Utilise teamwork and leadership principles

Utilise effective teamwork and leadership principles while collaborating within diverse, interdisciplinary teams.


Create and present ideas and prototypes

Create and effectively present innovative ideas and developed prototypes tailored to the requirements of unique audience.


Potential progress

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Lithuanian Railways - Bridging East and West
Lithuanian Railways, a key player in the European rail network, manages an extensive and diverse 2000km railway infrastructure, featuring both 1520mm and 1435mm electrified/non-electrified tracks. With the upcoming addition of the high-speed railway line Rail Baltica, our infrastructure will become even more diverse and accessible providing a swift high-speed connection to western Europe. Unique geographical location makes the Lithuanian railway infrastructure a gateway between east and west with mixed operational conditions and modes of transport.

Driving sustainable innovations
Most of the main lines are electrified or in the process of being electrified, unfortunately, electrification for parts of the infrastructure like regional lines, marshalling yards, and depots is not economically viable. Our primary goal is to tackle the challenge of reducing diesel freight traction in regional and non-electrified lines, which is crucial for achieving our strategic carbon footprint reduction goals. We believe that a robust and scalable solution to this issue is vital not only for sustainable national business growth but also for maintaining competitiveness in global markets. By participating in this challenge, you have the opportunity to be at the forefront of sustainable railway innovation. You will be contributing directly to an essential environmental initiative, gaining invaluable skills and experience in the process. This is your chance to play a key role in shaping a greener future for rail transport, bridging the gap between traditional and sustainable practices in a dynamic, international context.

Hosting university

Kaunas University of Technology

Kaunas University of Technology

Challenge provider

Lietuvos geležinkeliai (LTG)