Chiltern Railways has taken a major step towards a greener future by becoming the first train operator in the UK to use hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) to power some of its fleet.
HVO is a renewable fuel made from used cooking oils and other waste products. It can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% and air particulates by 85% compared to conventional diesel.
Chiltern Railways is using HVO to power its Class 68 locomotives, which operate on the company's network between Birmingham and London. The switch to HVO is part of Chiltern's Right Route 2030 vision, which aims to make the company's operations more sustainable.
"We are determined to operate a railway that is easier, greener and better for our customers," said Richard Allan, managing director of Chiltern Railways. "The conversion of a key part of our fleet to HVO fuel will make a big difference in terms of emissions."
“We have listened to customers and stakeholders who rightly highlighted air quality as a key concern to us, and have taken action to minimise the impact on the environment that these trains have through cleaner, greener fuel.
The use of HVO by Chiltern Railways is a significant milestone in the UK's journey towards a decarbonised railway. The government has set a target of phasing out all diesel-only trains by 2040, and HVO is seen as a key part of the solution.
"Trains are already one of the greenest ways to travel," said Rail Minister Huw Merriman. "This reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% is an incredible achievement, and I commend Chiltern on pioneering this fuel."
The use of HVO is not without its challenges. The fuel is more expensive than diesel, and there is a limited supply available. However, the cost of HVO is expected to fall in the coming years, and the supply is expected to increase as more companies switch to using it.
Chiltern Railways' move to HVO is seen as a positive step forwards for its decarbonisation plan and as the cost of HVO falls and the supply increases, it is hoped it could act as a catalyst for a broader switch to using the fuel.
Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said: "It’s so important we all can breathe clean air, so I’ve been working with local people living around Marylebone to push Chiltern Railways to end their reliance on diesel-only trains
"Chiltern Railways certainly recognise the issue so many of us face, and I’m pleased they’re pioneering new, innovative solutions such as HVO-fuel to do their bit to help clean up Marylebone’s air."
Photo Credit: Chiltern Railways
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