As part of a national trial, Virgin Trains is running one of its Voyagers on a 20 percent biodiesel blend. This is Europe’s first train to run on biodiesel.
“This is a pioneering step we’re taking,” said Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. “If the trial is a success -? and we believe it will be -? and we can convert our Voyager fleet to run on B20 biodiesel we could cut our CO2 emissions by up to 14 percent. This means 34,500 tonnes less CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere each year, and is equivalent to taking 23,000 cars off the road. We’re starting with 20 percent biodiesel and hope to increase this amount to 100 percent in the future which would potentially see 100,000 cars off the road.”
As part of the investment in biodiesel special fuelling points have been installed at Bombardier Transportation’s depots in Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire and Crofton, West Yorkshire and modifications have been made to the Cummins’ engines. During the trial the biodiesel train will run across much of Britain, from Birmingham to Scotland, in South Wales, North East England, the North West, Lake District, West Country, the South West and South Coast.
In March, Virgin Trains kicked off a £3.5m marketing campaign to tell potential passengers that its Pendolino trains are at least four times less polluting than cars or planes.
If the trial is a success the current higher duty on biodiesel would mean changes to duty levels would be required for a viable conversion of the fleet to biodiesel operation, Virgin says. The duty rate would be 54.68p per litre -? considerably more than the 7.69p per litre duty paid by the rail industry for diesel – and would require legislation to change.
The Virgin Trains trial is being conducted by Virgin Trains, the Association of Train Operating Companies and the Rail Safety & Standards Board.
One hundred percent of any profits made by Virgin Group through its train and plane companies for the next 10 years will be invested into developing clean fuels, according to Virgin.