EU Directive could seriously curtail rail freight’s growth, warns FTA

Wednesday 04 August 2010

When the next stage of the “Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive” (NRMM) comes into force by the end of 2011, rail freight operating companies could be left powerless… literally. The Freight Transport Association is particularly concerned about the disastrous impact this EU Directive could have on market competition and on accessibility for new market entrants.

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

“Ostensibly about air quality, the NRMM Directive poses a seriously leftfield threat to rail freight carrying with it insidious consequences. Not only does it require new build or re-engined locomotives to be fitted with a power unit that doesn’t currently exist, and is unlikely to in the immediate future, it is also questionable if the larger cooler system required by the NRMM for new build or re-engined locos would actually fit into existing locomotive designs due to the UK’s restrictive loading gauge. The situation is especially parlous for those operators of Class 66 locos if they want to re-engine them at future life-extension overhauls.”

New entrants to the rail freight market may see the – already limited – supply of Class 66 locomotives (currently responsible for moving 95 per cent of UK rail freight) evaporate if manufacturers do not build them to the new standards. This anxiety has been heightened by the reported concerns of major European locomotive builders about building to these exacting new standards.

MacRae concluded:

“With the reported lack of interest in building such a power unit, and no flexibility built into the NRMM Directive to allow for power units being retrofitted, many freight operators will be getting very hot under the collar.

“Rail freight has been enjoying something of a renaissance of late with its environmental and commercial benefits being brought to the fore. But, if manufacturers are not making locomotives then it doesn’t matter how much new business freight operating companies win, they simply won’t have the necessary capacity. This particularly affects new entrants or smaller freight operators. They simply don’t have access to stored older locos that could be refurbished, and even if they did then NRMM would make re-engining a far less viable option. The whole situation is extremely unsatisfactory.”

Notes for editors

The NRMM Directive is an air quality Directive dealing with particulate emissions from the power units of non-road vehicles and machines, including chainsaws, cranes and, crucially, railway vehicles. It applies to the emissions standards of ‘new power units’ that are ‘made’ and ‘placed on the market’.

Unlike other non-road mobile machinery, under the NRMM Directive rail is not afforded any flexibility when it comes to the renewal of old power units. This is a serious issue as locomotives can have a 30 to 50 year lifespan and re-engining has been commonly part of life extension pushing out beyond 30 years.

The NRMM compliant StageIIIB power unit will require a larger and heavier cooler group as it will require exhaust after-treatment and, consequently, the use of low-sulphur fuel, gas recirculation, selective catalytic reduction, particulate filters and AdBlue.

The North American built Class 66 locomotive is currently responsible for moving 95 per cent of UK rail freight.


FTA Press Office

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