Railway Industry Association responds to UK Net Zero Review

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The Railway Industry Association (RIA) – the voice of the UK rail supply community – has responded to former UK Energy Minister Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, noting that a continuous program of electrification is needed to provide economies of scale for decarbonization.

Commenting on the review, RIA’s technical director David Clarke, said, “We welcome Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, which the Railway Industry Association was pleased to contribute to. The report makes it clear that the Government needs to do more to tackle climate change and we support its recommendations related to rail, which make clear that longer-term funding certainty for major Net Zero projects is crucial.

“Notably, the report recognizes that further long-term clarity on what the future rail network will look like is necessary to meet Net Zero, with a continuous program for the electrification of rail lines ultimately providing economies of scale for decarbonization.

“The report is also supportive of the role rail can play in providing customers with better intermodal options and flexibility, and investing in the full HS2 scheme to include Leeds and the Northern Powerhouse Rail project to include Bradford would help deliver on this, for example.

“If we are to remove all diesel trains from the network by 2040 and ultimately reach Net Zero by 2050, a rolling program of cost-effective electrification is vital on intensively-used parts of the network – we are still a long way behind other comparable countries on electrifying our railway, with the UK currently lagging behind our European neighbors whose rail networks are typically 60% or more electrified, compared to 38% in the UK. 

“The Government also needs to commit to other forms of low carbon rolling stock which use new traction methods, such as hydrogen and battery, for less intensively used routes. Quite simply, the plans currently in place will not achieve Net Zero by 2050.

“Only by decarbonizing rail and building the Net Zero rail network with the capacity needed for the future will the Government deliver on its plans to shift passenger and freight journeys onto rail, and away from more carbon intensive modes of transport. The ball really is in the Government’s court on this.”