Drax Adds Rail Link

A one-year-old rail link has increased capacity to deliver more sustainable biomass from Drax’s LaSalle BioEnergy pellet plant in Urania, La., to its UK power station. The $15 million rail link, combined with other initiatives, have already contributed to a $5/tonne reduction in Drax’s biomass production costs in 2019.

The five miles of rail track connects Drax’s LaSalle BioEnergy pellet plant to the regional rail network, enabling freight trains to deliver the pellets to the company’s dedicated export facility at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. The addition of the rail link has allowed Drax to deliver around 7,000 tonnes of sustainable biomass to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in each train, compared to just 27 tonnes that could be transported by each truck previously.

A team of close to 40 contractors worked through two of the wettest Louisiana winters in decades to clear the site, excavating around 180,000 cubic yards of dirt to level off the ground and stabilize it before three sets of rail tracks could be laid. The work also included installing conveyors to get the pellets to the new rail loading point.

The rail link was commissioned last May and is now fully operational—and is part of Drax’s wider efforts to cut the costs of its biomass by around a third by 2027.

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