Rail freight operators have ditched electric trains and returned to more polluting diesel locomotives due to soaring energy prices – just weeks before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.
The shock move comes after the cost of operating each electrical train surged by more than 200 per cent between September and October – with one company reportedly seeing a £8million increase in costs.
According to the Rail Freight Group (RFG), firms – as well as consumers – simply cannot absorb the increase in costs.
RFC said in a statement: ‘The current significant increase in the wholesale cost of electricity for haulage means that some operators have had to take the regrettable decision to temporarily move back to diesel locomotives.
‘A 200% increase in electricity costs for each train cannot be absorbed by the operators, or customers, and so necessary action is being taken to ensure that trains can continue to operate delivering vital goods across the country.
‘Our members are assuring us that this is a temporary measure and will be kept under constant review.’
The statement added that rail freight emits 76% less CO2 than road freight ‘even with use of diesel locomotives’.
Unions are furious that parts of the rail industry feel forced to return to diesel use.