Monday, June 11, 2007

All Aboard the Biofuel Virgin Train

Europe's first biodiesel-powered passenger train left London's Euston station for North Wales last week, marking another milestone of billionaire Sir Richard Branson's plan to fight global warming. Fueled by 20 percent vegetable oil, Branson's Virgin Trains began their six month trail period. He hopes that eventually his whole fleet will be converted to run on biofuels. From Reuters:

"'There is a possibility as the engines get changed we could go up to 100 percent biodiesel,' Branson told a news conference, adding the company had been advised its current engines should run on a 20 percent blend.

Branson has committed to spending all the profits from his airline and rail business to combat global warming.

He also plans next year to have a test flight for one of his passenger aircraft using a biofuel."

Gordon Brown, the current British finance minister and next prime minister, was on hand for the send off. A special tax dispensation assisted in the trial run: Trains now run on red diesel, a fuel that is taxed at a discounted rate of 7.79 pence (about 15 cents) per liter, and the biodiesel blend could be taxed 54.68 pence. Legislation would be needed to change the rate, and Brown has assured Branson that he will address the problem but that the fuel will be taxed at a lower rate for this trial period. Britain offers tax incentives for biofuels to help cut global warming emissions.

The biofuel is provided by Britain's largest biofuels supplier, Greenergy. It comes mostly from the United Kingdom from domestically produced rapeseed oil blended with U.S. soybean oil and palm oil from the Far East. The trial train will be allowed to refuel at one of two locations in central England. Currently, Virgin Trains are refueled at 17 different locations that are also used by other operators.

Photo credit:
Virgin Trains

1 comment:

Beth said...

I can't wait to see this happen in the U.S. and become mainstream everywhere.