Freight travel

New hybrid locomotive to be trialled to cut freight emissions

The rail industry, in recent times, has been one of the UK’s greenest forms of transport, producing the lowest carbon footprint of all forms of public transport. Many people involved in rail take pride in this and will champion causes that seek to improve upon the already stellar record of minimal environmental impact that train routes have. The major areas involved in rail transport that can cause concern in their environmental impact are the general maintenance and upgrades involved in the rail lines themselves, as well as the freight industry.

In order to combat the carbon footprint involved in the freight side of rail, GB Railfreight (GBRf), one of the UK’s largest national rail freight operators and mover of goods, today unveiled its new hybrid Class 99 locomotive.

It is estimated that this new hybrid locomotive will cut emissions by c.50% per journey, creating a staggering improvement to the already existing rolling stock options. Designed and built in collaboration with Stadler and Beacon Rail, the new hybrid locomotive – the first Heavy Freight Locomotive capable of hauling mainline speeds and tonnages on UK rail networks – will run from 2025 and are intended to replace existing diesel-only powered Class 66 locomotives. Once operational the new trains will move more than £30bn of goods each year, significantly decarbonising purchases made by businesses and consumers.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said: “Rail freight is not just the backbone of the UK’s economy; it is now leading the push to decarbonise supply chains.

“Our new and cutting-edge locomotives will immediately make a huge impact on reducing CO2 emissions, improve choice for businesses and consumers, and cut their carbon footprints when purchasing goods.

“If scaled, with the help of the UK government to electrify more routes, the Class 99 locomotive can play an even greater role in helping supply chains and business operations become significantly more climate friendly.”

The implementation of the new Class 99 Locomotive will coincide with the UK government’s electrification rollout, which is taking place over the next decade. These two projects will go hand in hand in aiding and innovating the push for greener industry practices and standards. The Class 99 being run on electricity across all UK routes will look to reduce emissions by 585,000 tonnes of carbon per year. 

These concurrent plans for innovative rail transportation fit alongside the ideals for the British rail network outlined by Industry Minister, Lee Rowley: “Making our rail networks more sustainable is hugely important to ensuring our supply chains can continue to be the cornerstone of the UK’s economic growth.

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