Drax brings ‘first of a kind’ biomass rail wagons into service


Drax power station near Selby has developed bespoke train wagons able to transport compressed wood pellets in the quantities needed to feed the power station.

They’re the first of their kind in the world, were designed and developed by Lloyd’s Register Rail (Ricardo) and WH Davis – the UK’s last independent freight wagon manufacturer.

Work is now being carried out at Davis Wagon Services’ facilities (a subsidiary of WH Davis) to re-brand all 225 of Drax’s rail wagons, complete with new Northern Powerhouse branding.

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister said: “The development of Drax’s train wagons is a Northern Powerhouse success story – I’m delighted to unveil the first of the newly branded wagons.

“The energy sector has been and will continue to be a major source of jobs and economic opportunity in the North of England. It is worth over £5bn to the North and the region has more low carbon jobs per 1,000 employees than anywhere else in England.”

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “With these trains delivering up to 20,000 tonnes of biomass each day, we are now powering millions of homes and businesses across the UK with reliable, renewable electricity, whilst generating over £500m for the northern economy and supporting more than 6,000 jobs in the region – including some here at Davis Wagon Services’ facilities.

“We have invested £700m transforming the business from coal to biomass, including the development of an entirely new supply chain, and these rail wagons are a vital part of that investment.

“Our biomass comes into the ports on the east and west coasts from North America and Europe, and is brought to the power station by rail, because it is more efficient than road transportation – helping us to make carbon savings of more than 80 per cent compared to when we used coal to generate electricity.”

John Hall, MD of Davis Wagon Services Ltd, said: “Our parent company is the last UK rail freight manufacturer, and winning the contract with Drax firstly to develop and build these unique biomass wagons and now in maintaining them, has enabled us to retain a number of staff in skilled jobs and invest £850,000 in our facilities here in the North.

“We will be working with Drax as it rebrands all of its wagons over the coming two years, re-wrapping them with the new branding as part of a rolling maintenance programme.”