The government needs to lay out a 30 year plan for electrifying the UK’s rail network if it is to hit its climate targets, MPs have today warned.
A new report from the Transport Select Committee argued that the government should commit to a programme of rolling electrification projects over the next three decades if it is serious about decarbonising the network.
This strategy should also highlight the use of hydrogen and battery developments, as well as comprise appropriate costings and delivery dates.
They called for the Department for Transport (DfT) to kick off the electrification programme now, instead of waiting until 2024 as planned.
Committee chair Huw Merriman said that the track record for electrification in the UK was “patchy” so far.
“It’s time to invest in a rolling programme which will speed up delivery, drive down costs and hold to account those who do not deliver to time or budget”, he added.
About 62 per cent of the UK’s rail network still runs on diesel, with the remainder powered by electricity.
The sector makes up about one per cent of the UK’s emissions, but Merriman warned that failure to solve the problem would drive more freight back onto the country’s roads.
Industry group the Railway Industry Association (RIA) welcomed the calls, saying the process of electrification should start today.
RIA technical director David Clarke said: “We need to get on with decarbonising our rail network today if we are to meet the Government’s target of Net Zero by 2050.
“That means starting a rolling programme of affordable electrification that avoids the ‘boom and bust’ profiles of the past, thereby allowing the rail industry to continue to retain and develop expertise and capabilities so that it can deliver efficiently and affordably.
“We also need to see fleet orders of battery and hydrogen trains, which the industry is now developed enough to deliver, so that we can decarbonise branch lines around the country, placing the UK at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution.”
City A.M. has contacted the DfT for comment.