§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the percentage of coal moved by rail, road, barge and coastal vessels; and what information he has about the economies of moving pulverised coal by pipeline to power stations.
§ Mr. Benn
Coal sold by the NCB in 1974–75 was transported as follows:
Percent. Rail … … … 64 Road … … … 22 Canal … … … 1 Coastal vessels … … … 6 Other means … … … 7
Transport of coal by pipeline is a possibility that my Department keeps under review. Pipeline transport in a pulverised state is not favoured because pulverisation mills already exist at power stations rather than at collieries. Also there is an explosion risk associated with pneumatic transport which is costly and complicated to overcome; and there are mixing and dewatering problems associated with hydraulic transport.
Pipeline transport of crushed, as distinct from pulverised, coal is used in certain circumstances abroad. In the United Kingdom it would be at a disadvantage because of its inherent inflexibility and because of the existing railway network together with the facilities for rapid loading.