UK freight services company GB Railfreight (GBRf) will soon be hauling coal, following an agreement with Drax Power for the movement of imported coal from the Port of Tyne to Drax Power station near Selby, North Yorkshire.

<p>GBRf&#0039;s move into the UK&#0039;s largest bulk freight sector will begin during the first quarter of 2007. The freight hauler will use its fleet of class 66 locomotives and new purpose built wagons. <br /><br />GBRf&#0039;s strategic development director Jonathan Moser said he was absolutely delighted that GBRf had secured its place in coal. <br /><br />I came to GBRf with the objective to help the company move into coal. We have now achieved that, thanks to a lot of hard work all round, he said. I am also extremely pleased that we will be working with Drax Power – which operates the UK&#0039;s largest and most efficient coal-fired power station.<br /><br />GBRf&#0039;s new wagons will be high capacity coal hoppers with track-friendly bogies that enable them to move anywhere on Britain&#0039;s rail system. It is expected that the company will place the order for the vehicles very soon.<br /><br />Coal-fired power generation is back in fashion in the UK amid a period of surging wholesale gas prices. The addition of flue gas desulphurization equipment to power plants such as Drax have also helped to limit fears about excessive pollution caused by coal fired facilities, although ultimately implementation of EU directives on emissions from large plant may hinder a longer term resurgence for the fuel.<br /><br />In the meantime concerns have been raised about the continued ability of the UK rail network to support increasing amounts of coal being transported over growing distances. Traditionally short &#0039;merry go round&#0039; shuttles ran from pit -heads to power stations, but the demise of the UK coal mining industry has meant far longer journeys. <br /><br />This has strained the country&#0039;s rail infrastructure, with the key Anglo-Scottish route from Carlisle to Yorkshire recently closed to all trains for several weeks for emergency repairs to the track. Transport indutry experts attributed some of the damage to an unforeseen number of freight trains now passing along the route, which the UK governmet attempted to close in the late 1980s.</p>