May 17, 2020

Rail Freight Group urge against ORR biomass charges

Rail Freight Group
Office of Rail Regulation
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Rail freight costs up to £400m annually due to wear & tear
The Rail Freight Group (RFG) has urged the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) not to proceed with proposals to significantly increase charges paid for th...


The Rail Freight Group (RFG) has urged the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) not to proceed with proposals to significantly increase charges paid for the moving of biomass by rail.

The ORR’s ‘Consultation on a freight specific charge for biomass’ proposed increased charges during the next control period, which starts from April 2014.

According to a statement by the RFG, the change is too late to be included in the support mechanisms being developed by Government to encourage renewable generation, and risks leaving a funding gap for electricity generators and the rail supply chain. This has led to ‘great concern’ that the proposal could seriously damage prospects for biomass growth.

A statement released by the ORR claims that there are wider economic and social benefits of moving freight by rail rather than road. For example, without rail freight there would have been an additional 6.7 million road journeys in 2007-08.

However, ORR’s work also showed that rail freight traffic creates costs of £280-400 million each year through factors such as the wear and tear on the tracks. Under the current charging regime freight companies only pay a small proportion of those costs, around 21-28%, with passengers and taxpayers covering the shortfall. Freight train operators currently pay minimal fixed costs, whereas in 2011-12 passenger train operators paid £887 million in fixed charges to Network Rail.

The consultation proposed to:

  • levy a charge on biomass, noting that the biomass transported by rail faces little competition from road and is a close substitute to ESI coal
  • levy a freight only line charge for biomass (which Network Rail will calculate – for comparison Network Rail estimate the charge for coal for CP5 to be £0.68 per kgtm), also phased in according to the same profile.
  • set a cap on biomass traffic at £4.04 per kgtm (calculated on the same basis as the other market segments to which the charge applies)

Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director, said: “Biomass is an important new market for rail freight and, with coal volumes set to decline, it is vital to the rail operators long-term business.  It will also protect and create new jobs, and encourage investment. ORR must commit to supporting this sector, by not applying  this increased charge, and by ensuring that its policies are aligned with Government energy policy.”

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Jun 8, 2021

DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID

3 min
Global logistics leader DHL’s new white paper highlights what supply chain professionals have learned one year into the pandemic

Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.


This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go. 


Public-Private Partnerships

With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”. 


Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats. 


In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.


“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”. 


How Do We Sustain Immunisation? 

By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”. 


Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared. 

Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.

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