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            january 17, 2020

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Virgin CrossCountry starts the first in service biodiesel trial


The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) reaffirms the rail industry’s commitment to ensure that Britain’s passenger railway remains the most environmentally-friendly form of mechanised transport, and fully appreciates the challenge of sustainable development. 
Today, Virgin CrossCountry starts the first in service biodiesel trial using a Cummins QSK-19 diesel engine on the Voyager fleet. The trial has been supported by a L1 million cross-industry research programme led by ATOC and the RSSB working with Train Operating Companies, Freight Operating Companies, rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs) and the Department of Transport (DfT), known as the Biodiesel Working Group.  
In conjunction with the Virgin CrossCountry trial, the Biodiesel Working Group is currently assessing the feasibility of services trials with the Cummins NT855 engine later this year using the Class 158/9 fleet, which is currently used on regional services across the country. 
The future sustainability of rail requires a thorough understanding of the benefits and trade-offs for the economy, society and environment that all our energy options represent.  As such, the work is a useful feed into the Sustainable Rail Programme, which RSSB facilitates on behalf of all stakeholders in Britain’s railway, and in which ATOC plays a pivotal role.  
Biodiesel would lessen the reliance on non-renewable fuel derived from crude oil.   Its use could also reduce the impact of carbon emissions from railway vehicles as the carbon dioxide emitted would be offset by absorption by the crops growing to make the fuel.   
Biofuel ‘mixes’ involve testing traditional diesel fuel with varying amounts (5% to 20% plus) of seed-based oils – such as rape seed - in a variety of train engines. 
This research programme consisted of desktop analysis and test-bed trials. The trials tested the Cummins NT855 and the Cummins QSK-19 on a range of biodiesel /diesel blends and found optimal blends for each of the two engines in their respective service trials. This has ensured that the optimal blends are used for the live service trials which will verify that biodiesel affects neither route timings nor fuel tank range.  
The service trials will also look at the long term effects caused by biodiesel blends. The biofuel being examined is Fatty Acid Methyl Esther (FAME) which fully complies with European biodiesel standards. 
Bryan Donnelly, ATOC’s Vehicle Engineering Manager said: “The results from the Virgin Cross Country service trial will help the industry understand the benefits of biodiesel and how it can be used by the rail industry to improve its environmental performance and over all sustainability.” 
Anson Jack, RSSB’s Director of Policy, Research and Risk said: “This is just one example of the application of research facilitated by RSSB, to assist the industry and its stakeholders improve performance, reduce costs, and address sustainable development.  This trial shows that the rail industry is picking this up and running with it, which is great to see, and a credit to all involved with the biodiesel project.”

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