EDF Energy and Network Rail have signed a ten-year agreement to supply low-carbon electricity to power Britain’s rail network.
With a network containing more than 20,000 miles of railway, tens of thousands of signals and hundreds of signal boxes controlling 25,000 trains a day, Network Rail is the single biggest consumer of electricity in Britain, and EDF Energy expects to supply around 3.2TWh a year.
Under this arrangement, the infrastructure owner will be able to purchase its electricity requirements up to 10 years in advance, giving it greater certainty over costs and significantly reducing its exposure to short term, volatile energy prices. The contract comes with a guarantee that the electricity supplied will be matched by electricity from low-carbon nuclear generation.
Network Rail procures electricity centrally for the rail industry. The majority is used to power electric trains through overhead lines and third rail power systems, with the cost recovered from train operators through traction electricity charges.
At present only around 40 per cent of the national rail network is electrified, but this is set to increase to 54 per cent by 2020, accounting for three quarters of all rail traffic. Schemes in hand include the Great Western Main Line, Liverpool to Manchester and Preston, and an ‘electric spine’ from Southampton docks to the West Midlands and Yorkshire.
Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF Energy, described the long-term deal as “a massive vote of confidence in our nuclear-backed energy”.