Rail industry announces decarbonisation plan

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has announced its new RailDecarb21 campaign today in a bid to accelerate the transition to a decarbonised rail network.

The RIA, which acts as a voice for the UK rail supply community, has launched the campaign to persuade the government to begin a rolling programme of electricifcation. It has also called on fleet orders of hydrogen and battery rolling stock, in order to meet the net zero by 2050 targets – and ahead of the UK’s UN COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow in November.

The campaign comes on the back of a call from the parliamentary transport committee which has also called on the government to accelerate the decarbonising of the rail network.

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Our rail network is already a low carbon form of transport, contributing only 1.4% to the UK’s domestic transport emssions and just 0.5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Yet we have clear targets from Government to meet – to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and to help the UK secure its commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

“To do this, we need to begin now. With rail investment taking several years, and train fleets having an average life of 30 years, the choices we make this year will impact whether we reach our targets in the coming decades. Every tonne of carbon saved today equates to 29 tonnes of carbon saved by 2050 – with an apprentice recruited today having 29 years of work ahead of them – making it all the more important to begin quickly.

“That is why we vitally need to begin a rolling programme of cost-effective electrification, which can be delivered at up to 50% less than the cost of certain past problem projects. And we also need to see orders of hydrogen and battery trains, which the industry is ready to deliver.

“Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this coming November, the UK Government has the opportunity to kick start the UK zero carbon economy – and rail can play a vital role. It can start by supporting electrification and low carbon train fleets, helping to deliver decarbonisation whilst also supporting the UK’s economic recovery from Coronavirus through the thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of GVA such UK rail investment brings.”

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