Urgent action needed to create zero-emission railway

Istock-477391390 (1)

Transform Scotland is calling for a £2,5bn decarbonisation programme to begin immediately.

2nd September 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Action must begin now if Scotland is to have a zero-emission railway by 2030, a new study has concluded.

According to Transform Scotland, the national alliance for sustainable transport, the country’s railways could be decarbonised over the next decade for a cost of around £2.5bn.

This programme would bring “multiple benefits” including reducing carbon emissions and encouraging less reliance on cars, as well as improving rail services for commuters and freight.

In a “vision paper” setting out its climate emergency response for Scotland’s railways, Transform Scotland said 75% of passengers already travel on zero-emission trains.

However, this could rise to 96% by electrifying the routes from the Central Belt to Aberdeen and Inverness.

The paper also calls for diesel trains on long rural routes to be replaced, either with hydrogen or battery-powered vehicles. 

Rail expert David Prescott, who advised on the paper, said: “By 2030, three-quarters of our diesel trains will need replacing as they reach the end of their working life. Whether Scotland is to be able to choose zero-emission trains to replace them depends on decisions taken today.

“If the Scottish Government is serious about tackling the Climate Emergency, a complete rolling programme of rail electrification to enable passengers and freight to travel emission free must start today.

“The whole rolling programme needs to start now -- not just one section, or a token gesture. It is mapped already and will take ten years to deliver, so must start now. Hesitation could mean spend on fossil-fuelled trains in 2030 that run into the 2060s.

“Scotland must decarbonise our railways by 2030 to make an important contribution to our ambition of a net-zero emission Scotland by 2045.”

Transform Scotland spokesperson Jess Pepper added: “Scotland’s track record has an enviable record on innovation in trains and rail electrification. In the past, Scotland has pioneered electric solutions, including battery-driven trains as early as the 1950s, and it is a leader in electrification of the rail network in the UK.

“The climate emergency means that there is a need for urgent action, and it is time for Scotland to lead again. Enabling everyone to move around on a zero emission network is just within reach, but only if government acts now.”