Scotland putting rail decarbonization at heart of net zero plans

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Decarbonizing transport, including rail services, offers a significant opportunity to contribute to reducing the threat of climate change, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking at a formal launch of the £120m (US$163m) Glasgow Queen Street Station yesterday (October 4), the First Minister applauded the substantial investment of over £9bn (US$12bn) in rail infrastructure since 2007 that sees over 75% of all rail passenger journeys in Scotland made by electric services.

Sturgeon also announced key progress in the continuation of rail decarbonization with confirmation that the £63m (US$86m) Barrhead line electrification will now move to the construction phase. This is the latest milestone in the delivery of Transport Scotland’s Rail Decarbonisation Action Plan, launched last year, which will see removal of all diesel on passenger services by 2035.

“With just a month until world leaders arrive in Glasgow to address the growing climate crisis, Scotland’s Railway is on well on track in its journey toward full decarbonization of passenger services,” Sturgeon said.

“Since 2007, we have invested over £9bn in rail infrastructure, including electrification to enable greener trains to run on those routes. We are committed to continued electrification, and the use of alternative traction technology, if we are to address the challenges facing this planet. Scotland, as a responsible global citizen, will do everything we can to play our part,” she added.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said, “As Scotland continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic, and as Glasgow prepares to host COP26, we are incredibly proud of this new station and the modern, green railway it symbolizes. The extended and electrified platforms at Glasgow Queen Street help to make sure our railway is ready to play a role in combatting the challenge of climate change and its impact on how we live and work in the future.”

In September, Scotland’s Railway announced it had appointed sustainability expert, Michelle Francis, to its Stakeholder Panel which scrutinizes the performance of the rail network. The panel meets three times a year, focusing on several themes, including the decarbonization of the railway, the contribution Scotland’s Railway can make to the economic recovery, and how the railway grows again following the Covid-19 pandemic.