Data released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has revealed the benefits electrification is having on the environment.
Outlined in the ORR’s Rail infrastructure, assets and environmental 2017-18 Annual Statistical Release, the percentage of the mainline route in Great Britain that has undergone electrification has increased.
The figures reveal 5,766km of the mainline railway route is electrified, equivalent to 36% of the total.
This is up by 2%, from 34% in 2016-17.
In the summary of the release, the ORR reveal that the amount of electricity consumed (in kWh) for providing traction to rail services has increased, both for passenger and freight journeys.
Encouragingly too, the amount of diesel used on the railway has decreased which, the ORR say, “is likely a consequence of the introduction of new electric fleets across the country.”
Elsewhere, the figures suggest that overall CO2e emissions from the provision of traction to trains has fallen to 6.6% for passenger services and 2.9% for freight. This, the ORR believe, is “largely due to the use of greener energy sources for electricity generation.”
The increasing take-up of electrification is something that the Parliamentary Transport Committee called for earlier this year.
In its report, the committee said that benefits to the environment were ignored to some extent, and electrification was earmarked as the best solution for heavily used parts of the network.
On “intensely-used” areas of the railway, the industry still believes electrification is “the optimal form of traction,” giving better value for money in the long term, lowering the cost of track maintenance, reducing track wear and tear, and crucially, delivering greater sustainability for the network, and benefits for the environment.
At a time when the UK government is striving to reduce pollution and is implementing strategies to that effect, the news that electrification is increasing within the rail sector will be welcomed.