Future of traction

Using diesel-powered locomotives to move freight by rail generates up to 76% lower carbon emissions than road transport. Switching to electric traction boosts the benefits even further, cutting carbon emissions by up to 95% compared with road haulage and further reducing air pollution.

With its fleet of 23 electric locomotives, Freightliner is the UK’s biggest provider of electric freight traction. However, only 38% of the UK’s rail network is currently electrified. In the future, locomotives may be available offering bi-mode or even tri-mode operation, substituting battery and/or diesel back-ups for electric power on unelectrified lines. But for now, where part of a route has not been electrified, a diesel locomotive must be used for the whole route.


Freightliner endorses the Department for Transport’s Decarbonisation Plan, which prioritises infill electrification of short stretches to open up whole routes to end-to-end electric traction. These lower-cost gap-filling electrification projects would unlock substantial carbon savings and air quality benefits, taking the early steps towards full decarbonisation of the network and increasing the economic, social and environmental benefits of UK rail freight, which have been valued independently at £2.5 billion annually.


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