The Anonymous Widower

Railfreight Goes Back To Diesel As Electricity Costs Soar

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This is the first paragraph.

Some rail freight operators have abandoned electric traction, at least for now, because the price of electricity has been rising sharply. The electricity tariffs include a 40 per cent renewable energy tax, and following the latest rises diesel traction is now cheaper. The drivers’ union ASLEF is calling for the government to intervene, but Freightliner has already taken action.

This quote from the article is from ASLEF General Secretary; Mick Whelan.

Moving freight by rail rather than road is, inherently, a carbon-efficient mode of transport and an environmentally-friendly way of doing business. Electric-hauled freight services reduce emissions by 99 per cent; even moving goods by diesel traction reduces emissions by 76 per cent.

It looks to me, that a reputable and trusted environmental economist could come up with a compromise price and possibly a solution to improve the situation.

Possible solutions could include.

  • Use of Biodiesel or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil
  • More energy storage.

Surely, though, the long term solution is hydrogen-powered locomotives. or dual-fuel locomotives, as I wrote about in Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.


October 20, 2021 - Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. NR has secured fixed annual prices for large consumer operators but those that take less than 450,000kwh/pa are managed under a different regime where prices are set monthly and its October price change that has caused FL’s action. They could have elected to be grouped with other operators but presumably, until recently, have been benefitting from lower costs from this arrangement.
    As best I can understand it is EdF, NR supplier, that have imposed this arrangement on operators depsite NR sources traction electricity for the entire industry.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 20, 2021 | Reply

  2. Freightliner’s US parent, G&W, seem to be watching the pennies to ensure profitability

    Comment by MilesT | October 31, 2021 | Reply

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