Rail Minister Jo Jonson has called for diesel-only trains to be phased out as part of new vision to decarbonise the railway.
In a speech made at the British Museum earlier this week, Johnson said: “I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040. If that seems like an ambitious goal - it should be and I make no apology for that. After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?”
Johnson said he wants to get “freight and passenger vehicles off the roads onto greener forms of transport… but that does not absolve the rail industry from cleaning up its own act.”
Johnson said rail emissions have increased in absolute terms - up 33% since 1990. “This cannot go on,” he continued. “We will tackle this with the urgency it deserves by setting tough new environmental performance goals in each rail franchise which the train operators will have to meet.”
Johnson said the drive to decarbonise must come from all sectors of the industry and has called on the railway to provide a "vision" for how it will decarbonise the industry by the autumn.
Commenting, Maggie Simpson, Rail Freight Group Executive Director, said: “Rail freight is acknowledged for its superior environmental performance and the Rail Minister is right to challenge the industry on how that can be further improved. Yet whilst battery and hydrogen may show promise for lightweight passenger trains, their application for heavy duty freight is at best unproven, and setting an arbitrary deadline of 2040 could well therefore be counterproductive, damaging the case for investment in our sector.
“Rail freight operators and customers are developing options to reduce their emissions in the short and longer term, and we would like to see Government support this through its research, investment and support programmes.”
She added: “In particular we would like to see the remit of the Office for Low Emission vehicles extended to cover all freight modes; current retrofit grants for buses and other road vehicles extended to the railways; [and] continued affordable electrification of the strategic freight network.”
Posted on: February 13th 2018