Rail freight operators are having to mothball their electric locomotives and switch back to diesel trains, which cause more pollution due to the slow-moving energy crisis.
Logistics firms say the rise in wholesale energy prices and the increase in track access charges they pay have made low-carbon trains unviable to operate.
The shocking revelation comes just two weeks before the UK is set to host the Cop26 climate summit, and is bad news for decarbonization plans – which depend on electrification.
Rail Freight Group, the industry body that covers the sector, said tripling the cost of electricity meant “some operators have had to make the regrettable decision to temporarily switch back to diesel locomotives”.
Noting that rail freight transport emits three-quarters less carbon even when using diesel locomotives, a spokesperson for the group said:
“The current significant increase in the wholesale cost of electricity for transportation has meant that some operators have had to make the regrettable decision to temporarily switch back to diesel locomotives.
“The 200 per cent increase in the cost of electricity for each train cannot be absorbed by the operators or the customers, and hence necessary action is being taken to ensure that the trains can continue to deliver critical goods across the country .
“Our members are assuring us that this is a temporary measure and will be reviewed continuously.”
Freightliner, which is one of the ‘Big Four’ rail freight companies and one of those to switch back to diesel, described the move as a “difficult decision” and confirmed that it had to remain “cost-effective”. Electricity services were temporarily suspended.
“As a result of rising prices in the UK wholesale electricity market, the price for Network Rail to operate electric train services has increased by more than 210 percent,” Freightliner said in a statement.
“This unprecedented increase in electricity tariff has resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of operating electric freight services.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /