Tarmac commits to renewable fuel in rail freight sustainability drive

Tarmac and DB Cargo UK’s delivery of construction materials on key route will be powered entirely by 100% renewable fuel.

Tarmac and its rail freight partner DB Cargo UK have announced that the delivery of construction materials on a key strategic route will be powered entirely by 100% renewable fuel.

The partners have confirmed that environmentally friendly hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO) will be fuelling all freight trains running between Tarmac’s Mountsorrel site in Leicestershire and its rail-fed asphalt plant in the centre of Birmingham, as part of an ongoing commitment to supporting the sustainable delivery of the UK’s infrastructure ambitions.

Tarmac say that HVO is one of the greenest fuels currently commercially available and is made synthetically through the hydro-treatment of vegetable oils or animal fats, which significantly lowers the amount of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emitted when used in diesel engines.

Previous trials by DB Cargo UK have estimated that as much as 90% of a train’s carbon emissions can be eliminated by using HVO fuel compared to traditional red diesel.

Chris Swan, head of rail at Tarmac, said: “We’re constantly looking to explore and adopt new innovations that support efficient and sustainability delivery, allowing us to move the right materials to the right place for customers. Developing our rail freight capability and capacity is key to our operations and aligns with the national agenda to deliver a low-carbon built environment.

“As the fight to cut carbon emissions and reduce air pollution intensifies, rail freight is becoming increasingly important for our sector and the adoption of new, sustainable fuels will further help to drive down emissions.”

Roger Neary, DB Cargo UK’s head of sales, said: “We are delighted that Tarmac has agreed to the exclusive use of HVO fuel on this key strategic route, which will deliver an important reduction in our own and our customer’s carbon emissions. 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.”

In line with its national legally binding commitments, the UK government has set the rail industry a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Tarmac’s continued development of its rail freight capabilities forms part of the company’s wider commitment to reducing CO2 from transport across the whole business. The business is one of the UK’s largest users of rail freight and currently transports more than nine million tonnes of construction materials by rail across the UK each year, helping to cut carbon from road vehicle movements.

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email