Virgin, run by Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur extraordinaire who recently announced plans to invest around $3bn in biofuels over the next 10 years. hopes that invoking biofuels will help him win an advantage over the competition from other applicants for a UK rail franchise.
In the UK rail market Virgin is competing for the new Cross Country rail franchise. This is built around trains that ply between regional centres and avoid London. According to Biopact, Branson is lobbying the UK government to cut the tax it would pay on blended fuels, containing a mixture of biofuels from the tropics and locally produced fuels based around vegetable oils such as rape seed oil.
Virgin wants to cut the size of its emissions from its fleet of 78 cross country trains. Currently they emit around 3.2kg C02/mile to and, according to Biopact.
In the UK, the duty on pure biodiesel (B100) is 6 pence per litre, 1 pence cheaper than so-called “red diesel”, or industrial diesel. However, the duty on blended biofuel and diesel is 50 pence per litre and Virgin hopes the Treasury will cut the levy substantially