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New dual electric and diesel locomotive shows rail freight is moving with the times

Philippa Edmunds's picture
Photo: Class 88

The UK rail network has long been hampered by limited electrification, so we're excited to welcome the UK’s first dual electric and diesel locomotive, the Class 88.

Direct Rail Services (DRS) has bought 10 class 88 locomotives from Stadler in Spain which it is introducing into the UK now. The Class 88 can go anywhere on the rail network and is an exciting environmental rail innovation.

Up till now, when a train passed from an electrified to a non-electrified line there was often a delay waiting for the engine to be changed over; but the Class 88 keeps on going, saving time and money as well as reducing pollution.

The electric engine produces around half the carbon emissions of a diesel freight train locomotive which itself produces 76% less carbon dioxide than the equivalent lorry journey.  

Given that many rail electrification enhancement projects are being delayed because of high costs, this locomotive is capable of bridging gaps in the UK electrified network in a seamless way which minimises delays. It is ideal for the freight market as it can use its diesel engine to go into freight terminals.

Destined for consumer traffic duties (where the cargo stays in an intermodal container that can be carried by rail, ship, and truck), DRS will use the new locomotives on its supermarket services on the West Country main line, especially the Daventry to Mossend flow via the steep gradients at Shap and Beattock.

Philippa Edmunds manages our Freight on Rail campaign