Friday 12 July 2024
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End of an era as the final coal shipment delivered to Ratcliffe Power Station

In a landmark moment marking the end of an era, GB Railfreight has delivered the likely final coal shipment to Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, as it prepares for closure on 30 September.

The 1,650-tonne delivery, which is expected to be the last in the station’s history, carries enough coal to generate electricity for approx. 500,000 homes for eight hours.

It signifies the culmination of a long-term partnership, during which more than 6,000 KT of coal was transported from the Port of Immingham.

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Train has been named after Ratcliffe Power Station

To mark the end of this partnership, GB Railfreight will be naming one of its locomotives ‘Ratcliffe Power Station’.

First commissioned in 1967, Ratcliffe power station, the last operational coal-fired power station in the UK, has four 500MW units, and its total 2GW capacity is capable of producing enough electricity to power more than two million homes, – roughly the whole of the East Midlands area.

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L-R Peter O’Grady Uniper, John Smith GB Railfreight, Mike Lockett Uniper and Sean Hager Managing Director from Hargreaves Industrial Services

Over its 57 years, the electricity generated has produced enough energy to make more than 1 billion cups of tea per day and over 21 trillion overall. Ratcliffe Power Station will remain operational until the end of September.

The coal delivery marks a significant landmark for the power station and the country, as the UK will meet the government’s target to end coal generation in 2024. At the turn of the 20th century, coal supplied over 95% of energy consumed in the UK. By 2023, this figure had fallen to just 1%.

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L-R Peter O’Grady Uniper, John Smith GB Railfreight, Mike Lockett Uniper and Sean Hager Managing Director from Hargreaves Industrial Services

Whilst coal no longer has a place in a low-carbon economy, rail remains as central to UK prosperity as ever, contributing £2.45bn to the national economy, with 90% of these benefits realised outside London and the South East.

Continuing to drive economic growth, rail freight is integral to the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Each train can carry the equivalent load of up to 129 lorries, reducing emissions on goods moved by 74%.

GB Railfreight has invested c.£150m in new bi-mode Class 99 locomotives which are currently being built in Valencia, Spain. These cutting-edge locomotives will bolster the environmental benefits of moving freight by rail and help decarbonise the UK’s supply chains.

Power Station site in Rushcliffe could become gigafactory with hotel, shops and food outlets

Mike Lockett, Uniper UK Country Chair said:

‘We’re really proud that GB Railfreight has chosen to name a locomotive after Ratcliffe power station in honour of its 57 years of electricity generation and our people who have worked there.

‘The last coal delivery is a significant moment and one that heralds the end of the story for the power station. However, it’s not the end for the site, as we look towards a future where it could become a zero-carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands.


‘The site has a Local Development Order in place granted by Rushcliffe borough council in 2023, which provides a framework for future sustainable development, and a large section of the site is also part of the East Midlands Freeport.

‘We’re also exploring the potential for future hydrogen production at the Ratcliffe power station site. This all aligns to Uniper’s aim to be completely carbon-neutral by 2040.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight said:

‘The final coal train to Ratcliffe power station is a historic moment in British history.
‘Coal and rail have been pivotal in driving British prosperity for centuries. GBRf has been transporting coal to the station for many years.’

‘Whilst we rightly recognise that coal must be phased out for the UK to successfully transition to a modern, zero-carbon economy, rail freight will continue to play a key role in the economy of the future. GBRf is investing heavily in decarbonising the UK’s supply chains and allowing businesses to take full advantage of the environmental benefits that rail offers when compared with road freight.’

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