British train operating company Chiltern Railways has announced the launch of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO)-powered trains on its network, marking the first instance of HVO being used in passenger service in the UK.

The new fuel is set to power the operator’s Class 68 locomotive-hauled trains.

Generated from recycled cooking oils, tallows and other recyclable wastes, rather than traditional diesel, the fuel significantly decreases the impact of the trains on the environment and air quality across the network.

Chiltern Railways managing director Richard Allan said: “We are determined to operate a railway that is easier, greener and better for our customers. The conversion of a key part of our fleet of trains to HVO fuel will make a big difference in terms of emissions.

“We have listened to customers and stakeholders who rightly highlighted air quality as a key concern to us and have taken action to minimise the impact on the environment that these trains have through cleaner, greener fuel.”

According to Chiltern Railways, HVO fuel has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% and air particulates by 85%.

Furthermore, as part of its commitment to modernise and decarbonise its operations under the Right Route 2030 strategy, the conversion to HVO has been made.

The Right Route 2030 strategy report sets out its ambitions for the rail industry by 2030, which includes the replacement of Chiltern’s 33-year-old diesel trains.

Through fleet modernisation and renewal over the next ten years, Chiltern customers will experience easier, more environmentally friendly and more efficient travel.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman emphasised how the launch of HVO-fueled trains moves the industry closer to its net zero targets: “Trains are already one of the greenest ways to travel and we want to build on this further by creating a rail industry that helps us achieve our ambitious net zero targets and delivers even more benefits for passengers.

“A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% is an incredible achievement that gets us one step closer to realising these and I commend Chiltern on pioneering this fuel.”