Chiltern Railways HybridFLEX DMU 168329 (Photo Tony Miles) (1)

UK: Chiltern Railways is exploring the potential use of hydrotreated vegetable oil fuel.

Chiltern is the last purely diesel-operated railway into London, and with government funding for electrification unlikely to be available in the immediate future, it is looking to reduce its carbon footprint.

The HVO initiative is at an early stage, but the passenger operator envisages it could be using to fuel a sub-fleet based at its Stourbridge depot.

Chiltern’s parent company Arriva UK Trains is seeking suppliers able to offer HVO that contains no palm, animal fats or raw materials derived from wood and no blending with GTL or other paraffinic diesels, with full traceability to confirm there are no ‘unethical or environmentally unfriendly’ practices involved.

It envisages a requirement for up to 3 000 000 litres/year.

In February this year Chiltern launched a two-car Class 168 DMU which has been repowered by leasing company Porterbrook and Rolls-Royce to enable the use of battery power for short distances into and out of stations. A parallel scheme has fitted a Class 165 DMU owned by Angel Trains with a HyDrive low-emission hybrid drive unit developed with Magtec and Loram.

Arriva already operates HVO buses, and uses HVO to fuel Stadler Wink multiple-units in the Netherlands pending expected partial electrification of the routes,

*An interview with Chiltern Railways Managing Director Richard Allan appeared in the June 2022 issue of Railway Gazette International magazine.