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RIA releases ambitious blueprint for net zero railway by 2050  

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has released an ambitious blueprint titled 'Delivering a Lower Cost, Higher Performing Net Zero Railway by 2050'. 

The Rail Industry Association has pointed to further electrification and new rolling stock as key to net zero goals.  

A key argument in the document focuses on track electrification, and the current UK government’s plan to ensure 51% of UK rail tracks are developed by 2050.  

The RIA said it had identified a further 15% of possible upgrades, which would have a significant impact on the industry’s chances of reaching net zero by the stated deadline. According to the association, this 15% would enable all passenger rail to be ‘decarbonised’ by 2050, and 95% of all freight services to do the same.  

Logistics UK’s Senior Policy Advisor, Ellis Shelton, commented: “Electrified rail transport is a fully developed, tested green technology that has been in operation for more than 60 years, in contrast to other forms of transportation where decarbonisation necessitates the creation of radical new power sources and systems.  

“In Europe, electrification is widely employed, and a large portion of goods trains are powered by electricity. The UK lags behind, with electric locomotives hauling just approximately 10% of British freight trains.  

“The long-term benefits for the environment, efficiency and public health are clear. Electrification addresses global warming and reduces particulate and other pollution. Improved air quality, particularly in towns and cities, will reduce health problems, especially amongst children, relieving pressures on health services.” 

The strategy laid out in the paper is called a ‘plan of thirds’ because one third of UK railways is already electrified; another third (including the 15% increase the RIA proposed) should be electrified; while the final third does not need to be upgraded because battery-electric locomotives could operate sufficiently on these routes.  

To make this plan work, the RIA said new rolling stock orders should be brought forward to advance the availability of Battery Electric Multiple Units (BEMUs). 

The RIA pointed out that replacing old, slow diesel trains would itself drive the industry significantly towards net zero. 

Published On: 25/04/2024 15:27:18


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