Image: Furrer+Frey GB

Innovative Electrification

Rail Freight Terminal, Northamptonshire

A rail freight terminal in Northamptonshire has become the first in the UK to demonstrate an innovative overhead electrification system, which could spell the end for diesel on electrified rail routes and boost the industry’s net zero ambitions.

The Decarbonisation & Electrification of Freight Terminals (DEFT) project, funded by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK, has seen project partners demonstrate a new way of decarbonising rail and lessen freight’s impact on passenger journeys by using galvanized steelwork.
Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire

A rail freight terminal in Northamptonshire has become the first in the UK to demonstrate an innovative overhead electrification system, which could spell the end for diesel on electrified rail routes and boost the industry’s net zero ambitions.

The Decarbonisation & Electrification of Freight Terminals (DEFT) project, funded by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK, has seen project partners demonstrate a new way of decarbonising rail and lessen freight’s impact on passenger journeys by using galvanized steelwork.

Rail freight is already much greener than moving goods by road. Lorries emit nine times the emissions of rail freight per tonne kilometre. Shifting goods from roads to the railways is an important pillar of the UK Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire

Seamless electrification for freight could begin to see slower, more polluting diesel trains being phased out. In 2018 the Government challenged the rail industry to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 as part of a drive to achieving the UK’s ambitious net zero goals, as well as to help improve air quality and reduce noise pollution.

Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire

The system being trialled in Northamptonshire is based on one developed for passenger train depots, used by Eurostar and LNER, and has been installed by SPL Powerlines. The DEFT project is one of 30 ground-breaking initiatives that have won a share of £9 million from the Department for Transport, in partnership with Innovate UK. The competition is focused on developing pioneering technology and exceptional ideas that can improve journeys for travellers, encourage passengers back onto the network and reduce the environmental impacts of rail.


Image: Furrer+Frey GB

Posted on July 21, 2022 by Galvanizers Association

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