Rail industry representatives have urged the Transport Secretary to kick-start a “rolling programme” of electrification.
Representatives of businesses, passengers, freight and community groups have united, calling on the government to end the ‘stop-start- nature of electrification schemes in the past and replace this with a ring-fenced “rolling programme” fund that will result in the extension of electrified track over a period of several years.
The representatives believe this is vital if the government is serious on delivering its aim of decarbonising UK rail by 2040.
Now is the time to put this “rolling programme” in place according to the representatives, who say that if the government doesn’t act before the current electrification schemes are completed, many of the skills and expertise will be lost, as the people who have worked on these projects won’t have anything new to move on to.
The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has been an advocate of electrification for a long time and its Chief Executive, Darren Caplan, said: “Kick-starting a programme of electrification on intensively-used rail is essential if the government is serious about delivering on its goal to decarbonise UK rail by 2040.
“Not only are electrified trains key to decarbonisation, electrified tracks are more reliable, reduce costs in the long term and shorten journey times too.”
Luke Osborne, the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) Energy Advisor, added: “The UK’s railway system, particularly in the North, is in desperate need of investment and decarbonisation to bring it into the 21st century.
“Electrification of the railways is fundamental to getting zero carbon done.”
The Rail Freight Group’s Director General, Maggie Simpson, said: “Electrification is the only proven technology to decarbonise rail freight, and government must start a rolling programme to electrify key routes, supporting private sector investment in new locomotives, and ensuring a low carbon future solution for freight customers and wider society.