The train driver’s union ASLEF has spoken out after rising electricity prices forced Freightliner to temporarily replace its electric fleet with diesel.
It’s asking the Prime Minister to intervene in the “crisis”.
In a statement, Freightliner described the factors leading to it shelving its electric fleet: “As a result of soaring prices in the UK’s wholesale electricity market, the price Network Rail charges us to operate electric train services has increased by more than 210% between September and October. This unprecedented rise in electricity charges has resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of operating electric freight services.
“As a result, Freightliner has taken the difficult decision to temporarily replace electric freight services with diesel-hauled services, in order to maintain a cost-effective option for transporting vital goods and supplies across the UK.”
ASLEF’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said: “It is utterly ridiculous that, a few weeks before COP26, when we will be looking to our politicians to plan for a green future, and a sustainable economy, to save our planet, environmentally-friendly electric locomotives are being replaced by diesel-powered units to haul goods around the country.
“Moving freight across the UK by rail rather than road is, inherently, a carbon-efficient mode of transport and an environmentally-friendly way of doing business. Electric-hauled freight services reduce emissions by 99%; even moving goods by diesel traction reduces emissions by 76%. But this backwards step – forced on the freight industry by government inaction – will drive a freight train through our green credentials and make our targets that much harder to achieve.
“That’s why we are calling for the Prime Minister to put down his paint brush and stop painting pictures in sunny Marbella and get back to work here in Britain – which is what he is paid for – to help the rest of us out of this crisis. We need the government to act now to help businesses – hit hard by soaring prices – and consumers who are already struggling to pay their bills.
“We need the government to do the right thing for people, the right thing for business, and the right thing for our rail network. Because it is also the right thing for our planet.”