Virgin Trains introduced Europe’s first train using a B20 biodiesel blend fuel into scheduled passenger service.
The Virgin Trains trial is a major step in a UK national biodiesel program, conducted by Virgin Trains, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB), to pioneer a sustainable fuel breakthrough for the rail industry.
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. We’re starting with 20 percent biodiesel and hope to increase this amount to 100 percent in the future.—Sir Richard Branson
During the trial the biodiesel train—one of the company’s Voyager trains—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.
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 Trains warns. The UK Treasury made a concession for this trial, but the standard 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.
In addition to its Voyager diesel fleet, Virgin Trains also runs Pendolino electric trains that return 17% of the power they use to the national grid every time they brake, making the Pendolino fleet one of the most efficient in the world.