UK rail operator awarded for biomass shipped to energy giant

By Luke Geiver | February 03, 2012

In less than one year, GB Railfreight (GBRF) has turned a train and freight shipping process designed to supply biomass to Drax Power Station, the U.K.’s largest power station, into an award winning business. GBRF was awarded the top prize for Freight and Logistics Achievements at the National Rail Awards at the end of 2011for its work in supplying 500,000 metric tons of pelletized biomass from the Port of Tyne to Drax’s Selby, North Yorkshire location.

Although the rail and freight company initially commissioned a fleet of 25 freight cars to haul biomass, GBRF has since modified another 21 hopper cars due to the growing demand of Drax. Speaking on the win, the award judges for the National Rail Awards prize noted that “Contract volumes have doubled and a key issue has been the strength of alliance between customer and supplier,” adding that the panel was unanimous in choosing GBRF as the winner.

Since the win, GBRF and Drax have continued their work on the biomass train, enlisting the help of Sophie English, a ten-year old who helped name the award winning train. English came up with the name, “Eco Express” for the class 66 locomotive used to haul the biomass because she liked the sound of eco combined with express and the implications of the environmental benefit of the train. The name for the train was unveiled earlier this month at the National Railway Museum in York, where members of GBRF and Drax were on hand.

“Our partnership with GBRF and the naming of this locomotive by Sophie English demonstrates our joint commitment  to strong, efficient rail links and a low carbon future,” according to Dorothy Thompson, chief executive at Drax, adding that “we are in no doubt that sustainable biomass is vital in helping to deliver the country’s 2020 climate change targets.”

The Selby power station currently makes up 7 percent of all renewable energy produced in the U.K.