First HVO Service

 DB Cargo UK and Network Rail conduct landmark track-testing of HVO fuel

A ‘carbon-busting’ Class 66 locomotive fuelled with 100% renewable Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO) made a landmark journey on the UK rail network this week (Wednesday, December 16th).

The Class 66 locomotive (66150) operated by DB Cargo UK transported a consignment of long-welded steel track from British Steel’s plant in Scunthorpe to Network Rail’s depot in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Network Rail was the first of DB Cargo UK’s customers to trial the use of the environmentally-friendly fuel on one of its services, following earlier successful load bank trials carried out by the freight operator on a Class 67.

It is estimated that substituting traditional red diesel for the new HVO fuel reduced the train’s carbon emissions by as much as 90%.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“From the first hydrogen-powered train on the network earlier this year, to a locomotive fuelled entirely with treated vegetable oil, this really has been a landmark year for green and clean innovation on our railways.

“Rail freight offers significant benefits to the environment, taking lorries off the road while keeping our economy moving. Harnessing sustainable sources of energy like this will help us to achieve our bold and ambitious vision for a net zero carbon transport system by 2050.”

DB Cargo UK’s Head of Sales Roger Neary said by working with Network Rail the company had taken another major step forward in proving HVO fuel as a viable alternative to the use of traditional red diesel in its locomotive fleet.

“We are delighted that Network Rail agreed to work with us on this exciting project that could ultimately lead to a significant reduction in our carbon footprint and that of our customers.

“Rail freight is already a much greener alternative to road haulage, so to reduce our carbon footprint even further will, I hope, make businesses re-evaluate their own transport strategies. If they want to reduce their own carbon emissions, then rail freight is the obvious choice over road,” he added.

DB Cargo UK now plans to carry out further live tests on its fleet of Class 67 and 60 locomotives.

HVO – Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil – is marketed as “one of the world’s purest and greenest fuels”.

It’s synthetically made through the hydro-treatment process from vegetable oils or animal fats which significantly reduces harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions when used in diesel vehicles and machinery.

The Government has set the rail industry a stretching target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Neil Welch, Supply Chain Operations Business Manager for Network Rail, said that as well as greater electrification of the UK network, Network Rail was working across its supply chain to explore innovative ways to decarbonise its operations.

 “Sustainability is important to our passengers and it’s important to us. It’s an integral part of putting passengers first and making sure our railway is resilient, efficient and provides a great service in years to come,” he said.

Neil continued: “We are keen to understand all of the alternative technologies available in the marketplace that will significantly reduce carbon emissions. We will continue to engage with our supply chain on the options available.”


For further information contact DB Cargo UK’s Senior Communications Manager Richard Sears on 07716691193 or by emailing him at

Notes to Editors:

  1. DB Cargo UK currently operates 228 diesel and electric locomotives that transport in the region of 37 million tonnes of freight each year across the UK and into Europe. It uses approximately 45 million litres of red diesel a year.