• 5 August 2021

Decarbonising transport: what the new plan means for the UK rail sector

The UK government’s decarbonising transport plan, released by the Department for Transport in July 2021, sees the UK become the first major economy legally tied to carbon budgets, with set amounts by which greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced, and the overall goal of achieving a net zero status by 2050.

The plan defines in detail how we can decarbonise our railways and contribute to the net zero objective through a sustained carbon reduction strategy. With connectivity a key theme, the plan sets out how the rail network can become synergistic with other carbon-free transport modes such as walking, cycling and non-zero emission buses. Rail freight growth is also targeted, with low carbon traction for rail freight incentivised.

Over the coming years, the rail sector will see a programme of investment centred around a cost effective and sustainable electrification programme, supported by the use of battery and hydrogen operated trains. Alongside the phasing out of diesel-only locomotives, the electrification of 15,400 km of track will play a key role in decarbonising the sector.

Welcoming the plan, Manoj Gupta, Waterman’s rail sector director said: “The decarbonising transport plan sets out a clear path to delivering a net zero public transport network. This will become a key document as the rail sector gears-up for the challenge of delivering a sustainable, future-ready network which is adaptable and resilient to the physical impacts we face as a result of the climate emergency. Looking ahead, I am excited to see the commitments and action plans emerging from the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow in November 2021. As the host of the conference, the UK government has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future on the global stage and showcase its approach to decarbonising our nation’s transport networks.”

To read the Department for Transport’s decarbonising transport plan, click here.

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