Choo choo! Northern Rail trains drivers to slash fuel use

It’s full steam ahead for fuel efficiency in the North of England as Northern Rail is teaching its train drivers simple techniques to slash their diesel use. The firm spends […]

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By Vicky Ellis

It’s full steam ahead for fuel efficiency in the North of England as Northern Rail is teaching its train drivers simple techniques to slash their diesel use.

The firm spends £30 million a year on energy and diesel counts for a huge chunk of that and hopes to cut this down by 3% to counter new trains it has added to its fleet.

Gareth Williams, Energy Solutions Manager at the rail firm which covers the North and North East of England including Leeds told ELN: “Our diesel spend is around £27 million a year so a huge proportion of our energy spend is in diesel on our trains. Our diesel trains are around 85% of our mix so it is the core of energy we have. We’re looking to save about 3% through our responsible driving programme… and by that we save nearly 4,000 tonnes of carbon a year.”

With each train unit using on average 11.6litres of diesel just when idling, drivers are being asked to turn off the trains when they’re at a standstill. When moving, drivers can use the tracks to their advantage – if going along a straight piece of rail or downhill for example, they can coast rather than burning up their fuel unnecessarily.

The biggest challenge has been winning over long-established drivers who might be sceptical about the change, according to Pete Sheppherd, Operation Standards Specialist for the firm.

He said: “Some of the drivers have been doing the same job for 30-40 years so actually changing their mindset and looking at things differently and acting differently were probably the biggest challenges. Because I am an ex-driver and an ex-instructor myself, part of the way I approached was to get in the train with the drivers and talk to them on their territory and explain what we’re doing.”