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GB Railfreight completed historic final coal delivery in UK

posted on 8th Jul 2024 11:51

In a landmark moment marking the end of an era, GB Railfreight has delivered the likely final coal shipment to Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, as it prepares for closure on 30 September.

The 1,650-tonne delivery, which is expected to be the last in the station’s history, carries enough coal to generate electricity for approx. 500,000 homes for an eight-hour period. It signifies the culmination of a long-term partnership, during which more than 6,000 KT of coal were transported from the Port of Immingham. To mark the end of this partnership, GB Railfreight has named one of its locomotives ‘Ratcliffe Power Station’.

First commissioned in 1967, Ratcliffe power station, the last operational coal fired power station in the UK, has four 500 MW units, and its total 2 GW capacity is capable of producing enough electricity to power more than two million homes – roughly the whole of the East Midlands area. Over its 57 years, the electricity generated has produced enough energy to make more than 1 billion cups of tea per day and over 21 trillion overall. Ratcliffe power station will remain operational until the end of September.

The coal delivery marks a significant landmark for the power station and the country, as the UK will meet the government’s target to end coal generation in 2024. At the turn of the 20th century, coal supplied over 95% of energy consumed in the UK. By 2023, this figure had fallen to just 1%. Whilst coal no longer has a place in a low-carbon economy, rail remains as central to UK prosperity as ever, contributing 2.45 bn GBP to the national economy, with 90 % of these benefits realised outside London and the South East.  

Continuing to drive economic growth, rail freight is integral to the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Each train can carry the equivalent load of up to 129 lorries, reducing emissions on goods moved by 74 %. GB Railfreight has invested around 150 million GBP in new bi-mode Class 99 locomotives which are currently being built in Valencia.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said: “The final coal train to Ratcliffe power station will be an historic moment in British history. Coal and rail have been pivotal in driving British prosperity for centuries. GBRf has been transporting coal to the station for many years. Whilst we rightly recognise that coal must be phased out for the UK to successfully transition to a modern, zero-carbon economy, rail freight will continue to play a key role in the economy of the future. GBRf is investing heavily in decarbonising the UK’s supply chains and allowing businesses to take full advantage of the environmental benefits that rail offers when compared with road freight.”


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