All aboard the chip fat express – Chiltern Railways launches trains powered by used vegetable oil

The trains will serve stations including Princes Risborough and Haddenham on the Chiltern mainline
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Aylesbury’s local train operator has launched trains powered by vegetable oil on its network – the first time hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) has been used in passenger services in the UK. 

Chiltern Railways’ Class 68 locomotive-hauled trains will be powered with the innovative fuel, derived from used cooking oils, tallows and other recyclable wastes, rather than conventional diesel, drastically reducing the impact the trains have on the environment and air quality.  

HVO fuel is made almost entirely from used and recycled cooking oils and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% and air particulates by 85%.

Launch of Chiltern Railways' Class 68 vegetable oil-powered trainsLaunch of Chiltern Railways' Class 68 vegetable oil-powered trains
Launch of Chiltern Railways' Class 68 vegetable oil-powered trains

Although HVO fuel is more expensive to buy than conventional diesel, Chiltern has decided to switch to using HVO fuel as part of its plan to modernise and decarbonise its operations over the next decade. 

The Class 68 locomotives being fuelled with HVO haul six Mark III coaches when they are in passenger service.

Managing director Richard Allan said:  “We are determined to operate a railway that is easier, greener, and better for our customers. The conversion of a key part of our fleet of trains to HVO fuel will make a big difference in terms of emissions.

“We have listened to customers and stakeholders who rightly highlighted air quality as a key concern to us, and have taken action to minimise the impact on the environment that these trains have through cleaner, greener fuel.

“This is a strong step in the right direction, and we want to do more. In the next few days, we will be inviting train manufacturers for proposals for new trains to replace our oldest diesel trains.”

Rail Minister Huw Merriman, said: “Trains are already one of the greenest ways to travel, and we want to build on this further by creating a rail industry that helps us achieve our ambitious net zero targets and delivers even more benefits for passengers.

“A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% is an incredible achievement that gets us one step closer to realising these and I commend Chiltern on pioneering this fuel.”