New milestone reached in biomass supply chain

A three year partnership between Lloyds Register Rail, UK manufacturer WH Davis and Drax has reached a significant milestone as Drax takes delivery of its 200th specially designed biomass rail freight wagon.

The partnership, which has pushed the boundaries of rail engineering and lead to the design and manufacturing of the largest ever rail freight wagons in the UK, has played a major role in ongoing developments in Drax’s supply chain as part of its conversion to burning sustainable biomass in place of coal – a process which has seen Drax transform from the UK’s largest emitter of CO2 to Europe’s largest decarbonisation project.

Since entering operations in 2013, the wagons, designed by Lloyd’s Register Rail and manufactured by WH Davis, have collectively travelled over 12 million miles between the Ports of Tyne, Hull and Immingham and Drax. Over the course of these journeys they have transported around 4.5 million tonnes of sustainable biomass – enough to power 2.5 million homes with low carbon, affordable and reliable renewable electricity. The wagons are 30 per cent larger than any other rail freight wagon currently used in the UK, and are able to carry a biomass load weighing 71.6 tonnes.

Peter Emery, Group Operations Director of Drax Group plc said: “This milestone demonstrates the sheer scale of our decarbonisation project as we replace coal with sustainable biomass providing a reliable and affordable source of electricity.

“Lloyds Register Rail and WH Davis have been important partners in the development of our biomass operations. The delivery of our 200th wagon marks a major stage in a process which has been a huge success both in terms of modifications to Drax’s supply chain and for UK engineering as a whole.”

Mark Jackson, Managing Director of W H Davis said: “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved for Drax, providing UK manufactured wagons which set the standard for wagon manufacture and enable Drax to receive volumes of biomass which would be impracticable by road.

“Our subsidiary, Davis Wagon Services, is supporting Drax with maintenance of the wagons and is working with Drax to establish a dedicated maintenance facility, ensuring maximum fleet availability.”


Biomass Wagon – technical specification

1. Unique sole-bar design
2. Length over buffers 18.880m
3. Bogie centres 10.8m
4. Volume/Capacity 116m^3
5. Gauge W6a (W6b)
6. Tare weight 30t
7. Gross Laden Weight (GLW) 102t
8. Length of bottom doors 3724mm
9. Length of top doors 18.2m
10. Material 3CR12 stainless steel for main structure with under-frame in mild steel and aluminium roof doors / S355 at headstock and bolster areas
11. Door operation – fully automatic via lineside magnets (non-contact, zero power)
12. Product flow control – patented product control moveable surfaces
13. Unique discharge door design (to eliminate product spillage)

About Drax

Drax Group plc is an electrical power generation business made up of three main business units: Drax Power, Drax Biomass and Haven Power. Its principal business unit, Drax Power, is the UK’s largest power station based in Selby, North Yorkshire, and provides 7-8% of the UK’s electricity. Drax Power is also Europe’s largest decarbonisation project and the UK’s largest renewable electricity generator, achieved through an ongoing conversion to burning sustainable biomass in place of coal. Drax Biomass is the Group’s upstream subsidiary based in the US, focussed on manufacturing wood pellets for renewable low-carbon power generation from sustainable biomass. At the other end of the supply chain, Drax’s retail arm, Haven Power, serves the electricity needs of a growing number of business customers. Drax Group also owns Billington Bioenergy, one of the leading distributors of wood pellets for sustainable heating in the UK. The business employs around 1400 people.
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About WH Davis

WH Davis was originally formed in 1910, initially as a repairer and later a manufacturer of wooden-bodied mineral wagons. Following just two changes of ownership in a hundred years, it is now the last independent British freight wagon manufacturer, with workshops located just off the M1 motorway near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. In addition to freight wagons, WH Davis also designs and manufacturers all types of bespoke containers for industries as diverse as shipping, nuclear and off-shore oil.


Andrew Brown
Director of Communications
+44 (0) 1757 612 165
[email protected]

Luther Pendragon
+44 (0) 20 7618 9137
[email protected]