EU Directive threatens rail freight market, warns FTA

Thursday 22 April 2010

A seemingly innocuous EU Directive could prohibit new companies from entering the rail freight market and threatens to undermine its growth, so warns leading trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA). When the Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) Directive kicks in by the end of 2011 rail freight operating companies could find themselves left literally powerless.

Not being a carbon reduction, rail or freight directive the rail freight industry might be forgiven for not having given the NRMM Directive a second glance when it was first announced in 2004. However, its implications are potentially grave and looming fast.

Chris MacRae, FTA’s Rail Freight Policy Manager, said:

“The NRMM Directive brings tighter emissions standards that will require locomotives to be fitted with a less nitrogen oxide and particulate emitting power unit that currently doesn’t exist. The larger cooler system required leaves a big question mark over whether such a power unit would even fit into existing locomotives due to the UK’s restrictive loading gauge.

“The whole thing is a mess and a great concern for anyone operating Class 66 locos.”

As well as those looking to re-engine their locomotives, new entrants into the rail freight market may find that the supply of Class 66 locomotives (currently responsible for moving 95 per cent of UK rail freight) evaporate if their manufacturer cannot build them to the new standards.

MacRae concluded:

“The fact that an NRMM Directive compliant power unit is not yet available is a huge cause for concern, especially for freight operating companies when existing locos come up for mid-life reengineering. With the reported lack of interest in building such a power unit and inflexibility within the NRMM Directive allowing existing power units to be retrofitted, the issue is pressing to say the least.

“If flexibility is not built in to the NRMM Directive then it could really slam the brakes on rail freight growth and do lasting damage to market competition within.”


FTA Press Office

01892 552255