The Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce has published its final report on the importance of the sector in helping the UK economy achieve decarbonisation targets by 2050.
Rail Minister, Andrew Jones, welcomed the report which, he said, “sets out a clear and ambitious strategy for the rail industry to go further and faster in decarbonising the network.”
Although the sector itself is a low carbon transport mode – responsible for less than 2.5% of total transport emissions despite making up approximately 10% of all distance travelled around the UK – the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce has found the industry and government can deliver real change in rail emissions by removing diesel trains from the network.
The Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce said that sustainability and rolling stock experts believe battery, hydrogen and electrification will all play key roles in reducing emissions.
The wider industry has called upon decision makers to work in order to create a national strategy that allows everybody to play their part in achieving net-zero carbon emissions throughout the economy – in line with the targets set out by former Prime Minister Theresa May.
In order to achieve the decarbonisation targets, work needs to commence on the levels of investment needed, timescales and key decision points over the next three decades, all empowered by the correct structures, frameworks and policies, enabled by a full programme of R&D in support.
Over the coming years, more than 3,000 carriages or vehicles used in diesel passenger trains will be replaced or converted in the years ahead, with many approaching the end of their shelf life.
One of the most cost effective options is electrification, particularly for higher speed intercity trains; depending on the extent of this, approximately 2,400 vehicles could use alternative low carbon traction options including hydrogen and battery technology.
Andrew Jones said: “We now have practical next steps which will see the rail industry playing its full part, as we push towards the UK’s target of greenhouse gas emissions being net-zero by 2050.”