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RIA launches RailDecarb21 campaign

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The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is calling on the UK Government to redouble its efforts to decarbonise the rail network, ahead of COP26 United Nations climate change conference later this year.

Launching the association’s new RailDecarb21 campaign, RIA chief executive Darren Caplan called on the government to begin a rolling programme of electrification and to start fleet orders of hydrogen and battery rolling stock in order to meet the UK’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ target and to show global leadership.

The campaign comes on the back of a ‘Trains Fit For the Future’ report by Parliament’s Transport Committee, urging the government to act swiftly in decarbonising the rail network.

Darren Caplan, RIA.

 Speaking at the EuroRail Hub online conference organised by Mack Brooks, Darren Caplan said: “Our rail network is already a low carbon form of transport, contributing only 1.4% to the UK’s domestic transport emissions and just 0.5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Yet we have clear targets from government to meet – to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and to help the UK secure its commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

“To do this, we need to begin now. With rail investment taking several years, and train fleets having an average life of 30 years, the choices we make this year will impact whether we reach our targets in the coming decades. Every tonne of carbon saved today equates to 29 tonnes of carbon saved by 2050 – with an apprentice recruited today having 29 years of work ahead of them – making it all the more important to begin quickly.

“That is why we vitally need to begin a rolling programme of cost-effective electrification, which can be delivered at up to 50% less than the cost of certain past problem projects. And we also need to see orders of hydrogen and battery trains, which the industry is ready to deliver.

“Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this coming November, the UK Government has the opportunity to kick start the UK zero carbon economy – and rail can play a vital role. It can start by supporting electrification and low carbon train fleets, helping to deliver decarbonisation whilst also supporting the UK’s economic recovery from Coronavirus through the thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of GVA such UK rail investment brings.”

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