The Anonymous Widower

Switching From Lorries To Freight Trains Could Cut Air Pollution By 10%

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine. This is the first paragraph.

Making the switch from HGVs to trains for freight travel could lead to 10% less air pollution from NOx across the country, says new research from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The major problem will be to get freight operators to switch from road to rail.

However, I do feel that this may be hastened by external factors and innovative methods and technology.

Shortages Of Train And Truck Drivers

There are regular news items about shortages of train and truck drivers.

I would think, that both careers will attract the same type of person.

Both careers will have their good and bad points.

But after a search of the Internet, it does appear that the train driver will earn more than the truck driver.

So will a shortage of truck drivers, nudge more freight operators to use rail?

Track Improvements For Rail Freight

Over the last decade or so, there have been several improvements in track layouts, that have been driven by the need to increase the amount of freigt carried by rail.

  • The development of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line through Lincolnshire as a freight by-pass for the East Coast Main Line.
  • The building of the Bacon Factory Chord to increase capacity to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
  • Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will create a second electrified freight route across London.
  • Several passing loops have been lengthened to allow longer freight trains.
  • The Ordsall Chord will help freight through Manchester.

Obviously any general improvements will help freight trains as well as passenger trains.

Air-Pollution Activitists And Politicians

Most long-distance rail-freight is diesel-hauled and increasingly it goes through areas of large cities, where there is electrification. These electrified lines all see diesel-hauled freight trains.

  • The North London Line
  • The West London Line
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • The Ordsall Chord
  • The Great Eastern Main Line
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • The Great Western Main Line

It will not be long before air-quality activists set their sites on removing diesel haulage from lines like these.

Will a local politician in North London say, be more likely to get elected, if they say, they will push for a ban on noisy and polluting diesel-powered locomotives running through their constituency.

The Replacement Of Diesel Locomotives With Electro-Diesel Locomotives

If you take a freight route like say Felixstowe to Trafford Park in Manchester via the Great Eastern Main Line, the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line, all of the route except for the two ends is electrified.

Normally, freight on this route would be hauled by a Class 66 diesel-locomotive, which would probably score 2/10 as a friend of the environment.

A modern electro-diesel locomotive, like a Class 88 locomotive  may be able to this and similar routes using electricity in the middle and its onboard diesel engine at both ends of the route.

The various locomotives, used on UK freight trains compare as follows.

  • Class 66 – 65/75 mph – 2.4 MW on diesel
  • Class 68 – Modern diesel to Stage II A emission standards – 100 mph – 2.8 MW on diesel
  • Class 70 – 75 mph – 2.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 86 – 75 mph – 0.7 MW on electricity
  • Class 88 – 100 mph – 4 MW on electricity – 0.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 90 – Electric locomotive – 100 mph – 0.9 MW on electricity
  • Class 92 – Electric locomotive – 87 mph – 5 MW on electricity

As the table shows the  Class 66 locomotives  are slow and less powerful than both the more modern Class 68 or Class 88 locomotives.

Cynically, I would say that the only reason that Class 66 and Class 70 locomotives are still in service is that they are good for the bottom line.

Despite this, I feel we’ll see an increasing number of electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 arriving in the UK.

New Electric Locomotives

Judging by some of the strange combinations, I’ve seen on some freight trains, we are short of electric locomotives.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

Even electric locomotives from the 1960s are being called up for service.

These two Class 86 locomotives were hauling a freight train through Hackney Wick station.

I think we’ll see small numbers of new electric locomotives arriving in the UK.

I suspect too, that freight operators are preparing their bids for the fifteen Class 90 locomotives, that will be released in the next few years by Greater Anglia.

More Electrification

In a couple of years, there will be full electrification from London to Bristol and Cardiff.

Although the Government has put a hold on a lot of electrification,  current schemes like electrification of the Great Western Main Line will increase the use of electric or electro-diesel haulage.

Other smaller schemes might be added to increase the use of electric haulage for freight.

As an example, the lines into the important freight ports of London Gateway and Liverpool Two are not electrified. Electrifying both would probably increase the proportion of electrically-hauled freight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

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