Freight industry concern at Government diesel ban

FEBRUARY’S announcement by the Government it wants to remove all diesel-only trains from the UK network by 2040 poses a serious challenge to the railfreight industry, which relies heavily on diesel traction.

In response, Rail Freight Group (RFG) executive director Maggie Simpson said: “Rail freight is acknowledged for its superior environmental performance, and the rail minister is right to challenge the industry on how that can be further improved.

One of the few rail depots still receiving diesel fuel deliveries by rail is Neville Hill in Leeds. On February 7, DB Cargo No. 60066 heads the 14.05 Neville Hill-Lindsey empty tanks past a line of stored Class 70s and various ‘66s’ under repair at Freightliner’s Midland Road depot. NEIL HARVEY

“Yet whilst battery and hydrogen may show promise for lightweight passenger trains, their application for heavy duty freight is at best unproven, and setting an arbitrary deadline of 2040 could well therefore be counterproductive, damaging the case for investment in our sector.

“Rail freight operators and customers are developing options to reduce their emissions in the short and longer term, and we would like to see Government support this through its research, investment and support programmes.”

The RFG has also called for the remit of the Office for Low Emission vehicles to be extended to cover all freight modes; current grants for retro-fitting buses and other road vehicles with low-emission equipment to be extended to the railways; and continued affordable electrification of the strategic freight network.

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