How are train companies charged for electricity?

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Millisle

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It has taken a long time for these questions to occur to me.
Can train companies bargain with electricity suppliers, and Network Rail acts as network provider, or does NR buy all the power and sell it on? If the latter, does NR have to charge a flat rate based on usage, or can large users get a quantity discount? How are the costs of the electricity supply network, as distinct from electricity, apportioned to train companies by NR?
 
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Neo9320

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I’ve got images in my mind of some guy at NR using a price comparison site to get a better deal :)
 

Journeyman

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Network Rail has a standard pricing structure nationwide for traction current.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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NR buys the electricity in a bulk deal, renegotiated every Control Period I think.
They then sell it on to the TOCs at a rate agreed by ORR - it's called EC4T (electricity for traction).
Many TOCs these days have consumption meters on their trains, so I believe they pay for what they use and not a flat rate.
NR also claims it only uses low-carbon energy, the current deal with EDF guarantees the NR supply is from renewables or nuclear.
I see from the NR web site that the current deal with EDF is for 10 years from 2013, so will be due for renewal soon.
Ten-year deal powers Britain’s biggest rail electrification programme in a generation (networkrailmediacentre.co.uk)

The contract will see EDF Energy, the largest producer of low-carbon energy in the UK, supply around 3.2TWh of electricity a year, powering a network which carries 3m passengers and tens of thousands of tonnes of freight a day. EDF Energy will ensure 100% of the electricity it supplies to Network Rail will be matched by low carbon energy generated from its eight nuclear power stations.
 

Romsey

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Some years ago when I was working for Network Rail, I was rung up by one of these comparison sites. It took some minutes to get through to the caller that NR and TfL have contracts through the National Grid for the supply of traction current.
Most of this post was replaced by more current information in post~4
 

py_megapixel

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Some years ago when I was working for Network Rail, I was rung up by one of these comparison sites. It took some minutes to get through to the caller that NR and TfL have contracts through the National Grid for the supply of traction current.
Most of this post was replaced by more current information in post~4
Were they legitimately trying to persuade Network Rail to switch to a different electricity supplier?

What next - "Did you know that if you time that ECS move differently you can take advantage of the Economy-7 tariff?" :D
 

hwl

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NR buys the electricity in a bulk deal, renegotiated every Control Period I think.
They then sell it on to the TOCs at a rate agreed by ORR - it's called EC4T (electricity for traction).
Many TOCs these days have consumption meters on their trains, so I believe they pay for what they use and not a flat rate.
NR also claims it only uses low-carbon energy, the current deal with EDF guarantees the NR supply is from renewables or nuclear.
I see from the NR web site that the current deal with EDF is for 10 years from 2013, so will be due for renewal soon.
Ten-year deal powers Britain’s biggest rail electrification programme in a generation (networkrailmediacentre.co.uk)
The 3rd ten year deal with EDF or predecessor British Energy for nuclear since electricity privatisation.

Were they legitimately trying to persuade Network Rail to switch to a different electricity supplier?

What next - "Did you know that if you time that ECS move differently you can take advantage of the Economy-7 tariff?" :D
Economy 7 would be more expensive than NR pay at that time anyway...
 

CW2

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I recall there were issues when the contract was renegotiated some time ago. The original contract contained quite strict limits on maximum and minimum voltage which could be supplied - so the nominal 25kV supply could be (say) anywhere between 22 kV and 27 kV (I'm not sure of the exact figures). NR was offered - and accepted - a better deal if they were willing to accept a wider voltage range. All was OK until class 92s started working the Caledonian Sleepers, and kept failing north of Preston. The fault was found to be over-voltage trips - in other word the class 92 was shutting down as the power supply was too high voltage. Then the consequences of NR accepting the cheaper power offer came to light. I believe measures were taken to mitigate the power supply issues, rather than any changes to the 92s, but I may be wrong.
 

Sod

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I've got a bizarre image of TOC employees feeding 10p coins into the consumption meters of their trains; this could presumably become a pretty lively task when going up a serious incline.
 

Elecman

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Aside from traction power, station operator TOCs are, I believe, responsible for their own electricity at stations.
Correct but in the present circumstances the overall cost would be reduced if NR bought the lot as a cost of running the railway rather than every different TOC bought its own
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Correct but in the present circumstances the overall cost would be reduced if NR bought the lot as a cost of running the railway rather than every different TOC bought its own
This is another contract that might work against the railway during Covid and low usage.
I've no idea what the EDF/NR terms are, but consumption for the last year must be well down on any normal running average.
 

1018509

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There was I thinking that at some central location was a man with a coin meter and a very large pile of 50p's.
 

WestRiding

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So whats cheaper for a TOC, diesel or electricity? Is there a price insentive for TOCs to want expansion of the electrified network or are the TOCs quite happy with diesel, especially given a diesel unit or locomotive can go anywhere.
 

Journeyman

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So whats cheaper for a TOC, diesel or electricity? Is there a price insentive for TOCs to want expansion of the electrified network or are the TOCs quite happy with diesel, especially given a diesel unit or locomotive can go anywhere.
I think I'm right in saying that for an equivalent power output, electric trains are significantly cheaper to operate than diesels.
 

GLC

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So whats cheaper for a TOC, diesel or electricity? Is there a price insentive for TOCs to want expansion of the electrified network or are the TOCs quite happy with diesel, especially given a diesel unit or locomotive can go anywhere.
In a similar vein, does anyone know if the TPE Class 802 units which must run on diesel on the ECML due to electrical capacity constraints get any sort of rebate from NR as a “sorry you have to spend more on diesel” gesture?
 

syorksdeano

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Not saying its connected but people complain that they never see the guard, and when you see them they never seem to have any 50p's
 

Bald Rick

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So whats cheaper for a TOC, diesel or electricity? Is there a price insentive for TOCs to want expansion of the electrified network or are the TOCs quite happy with diesel, especially given a diesel unit or locomotive can go anywhere.

Electricity, much.


In a similar vein, does anyone know if the TPE Class 802 units which must run on diesel on the ECML due to electrical capacity constraints get any sort of rebate from NR as a “sorry you have to spend more on diesel” gesture?

No. Their costs are higher, but that will be covered off by extra money from DfT.
 

skyhigh

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Interesting would that mean the TOC gets a credit for power supplied back to NR from regenerative breaking?
I suspect the power supplied back is less then the power used so overall the TOC just pays less, rather than getting a credit back.
 

61653 HTAFC

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I’ve got images in my mind of some guy at NR using a price comparison site to get a better deal :)
I've got images of a train coasting to a stand, and the driver having to rummage through their pockets for some loose change to put in the coin slot (which of course is comically mounted on the side of the locomotive). ;)
 

py_megapixel

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I've got images of a train coasting to a stand, and the driver having to rummage through their pockets for some loose change to put in the coin slot (which of course is comically mounted on the side of the locomotive). ;)
Presumably the up-to-date equivalent of a fireman shovelling coal
 

swt_passenger

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I suspect the power supplied back is less then the power used so overall the TOC just pays less, rather than getting a credit back.
Definitely. Before on train metering allowed exact usage to be found, IIRC calculated regeneration discounts on the DC network were no more than 15% or so. The initial metering trials on WCML 390s with regeneration achieved about 16.5% which was very close to the predicted figure.
 

Journeyman

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On train metering actually has a long history. On the Southern's early electrification schemes, catering vehicles staffed by the Pullman Car Company had electricity meters on board, and the SR billed Pullman for the power used for cooking.
 

slicedbread

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It turns out network rail have got all the details on charging for electric on line at https://www.networkrail.co.uk/industry-and-commercial/information-for-operators/on-train-metering/

For metered trains it looks like the data log of electric consumed minus data log of electric produced (by regenerative breaking) gives a total to be billed.

Unmetered trains discount for regenerative breaking, which swt_passenger mentioned earlier, is 15% for DC then rises to 16% for AC long distance and 22% for AC suburban.
 

Dr Hoo

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To answer the OP's original question, the link in the above post shows that the charging system is very sophisticated. Obviously the computer can crunch all the numbers but the idea that it is some sort of 'flat rate' or 'standard discount for off-peak' is far from reality.
 

Romsey

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Were they legitimately trying to persuade Network Rail to switch to a different electricity supplier?
No they were just calling numbers at random.
A couple of days later they rang one of the electrification isolation planners, who asked did we (NR) get a rebate when the traction current was shut off for engineering works?
 
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