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Government needs to kick-start a "rolling programme" of rail electrification, say business, passenger, freight, and community groups

19 February 2020

Representative bodies covering businesses, passengers, freight, and community groups  have today published an open letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, calling for him to kick-start an ambitious "rolling programme" of rail electrification, if the Government wants to deliver on its aim of decarbonising UK rail by 2040.

The representative bodies, which represent thousands of businesses and organisations, have urged the Government to end the ‘stop-start’ nature of past electrification schemes and to introduce a ring-fenced "rolling programme" fund that allows the rail industry to extend electrified track over several years. They have called on the Government to act before current electrification schemes, including in the Midlands and Wales, are completed after which – without other scheme to move on to – many skills and expertise will be lost.

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The scale and pace of rail electrification must increase if legally binding carbon emission targets are to be met and air quality improved in towns and cities. Rail is currently the greenest major form of transport, but will cede that leading position undoing wider efforts to reduce carbon emissions unless the Government commits to a rolling programme of electrification. The Government should introduce a ring-fenced fund in the upcoming Budget with a longer-term settlement in the Spending Review so that communities can reap the benefits of cleaner train services."

Noel Dolphin, Campaign to Electrify Britain’s Railway (CEBR), said: "In order to deliver a decarbonised rail network, a significant amount of electrification is required. Electrification also provides benefits of increased capacity, decreased journey times and quieter, cleaner trains. A rolling programme of electrification is the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver electrification."

Alasdair Reisner, Chief executive, CECA, said: "It is essential that the UK moves swiftly to meet its carbon reduction commitments. Our transport network provides one of the biggest areas of opportunity in this regard, and rail electrification is an essential part of this. We support the development of a credible programme to cut the carbon cost of rail journeys nationwide"

Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) Energy Advisor Luke Osborne said: "The UK’s railway system, particularly in the North, is in desperate need of investment and decarbonisation to bring it into the 21st Century. Electrification of the railways is fundamental to getting zero carbon done."

Justin Moss and Mike Hulme, Co-Chairs of Northern Rail Industry Leaders (NRIL) said: "Decarbonising our rail network is important for the whole UK and in the North there are a number of lines that would benefit from electrification, including the Trans Pennine Route. We’d urge the Government to restart the electrification programme, and get on with decarbonising rail lines across the country."

Maggie Simpson, Director General of the Rail Freight Group, said: "Rail freight is already the environmental choice for freight movement, but we cannot be complacent.  Electrification is the only proven technology to decarbonise rail freight, and Government must start a rolling programme to electrify key routes, supporting private sector investment in new locomotives, and ensuring a low carbon future solution for freight customers and wider society."

Elaine Clark, CEO of Rail Forum Midlands said: "Government commitment to a long term rolling programme of electrification is essential if we are to meet the challenges set for decarbonising the railway and contribute to wider UK emissions and air quality targets. It’s also the only way we can retain and develop these essential skills in the industry thereby driving the reduction in delivery costs that have been identified as possible."

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: "Kick-starting a programme of electrification on intensively-used rail is essential if the Government is serious about delivering on its goal to decarbonise UK rail by 2040. Not only are electrified trains key to decarbonisation, electrified tracks are more reliable, reduce costs in the long term and shorten journey times too. Research conducted by RIA has shown that the costs of electrification schemes can be lowered by up to 50% compared to some past projects, particularly if supported by a "rolling programme" of work to avoid the expensive and inefficient ‘feast and famine’ approach to investment in the past. So we urge the Transport Secretary to make this a top priority as the new Government develops its Infrastructure Strategy in the months ahead."


For further information please contact the press office on 020 3746 2235 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. About the Campaign for Better Transport: Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. We campaign to bring sustainable transport to all and ensure solutions are delivered that improve the wellbeing of communities, quality of life and the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).

2. About the Campaign to Electrify Britain’s Railway: CEBR supports passenger user groups in campaigning for a rolling programme of electrification. We passionately believe that a rolling programme of electrification will radically improve the UK Railway. The UK has suffered from too many boom and bust infrastructure projects. A steady, planned, rolling programme will reduce costs, speed up journey times, create more seats on more reliable trains - and ultimately reduce ticket prices. Currently, the campaign has over 400 members, from user groups, engineering companies and like-minded individuals.  https://www.railwayelectrification.org/

3. About the Civil Engineering Contractors Association: The Civil Engineering Contractors Association is the representative body for companies who work day-to-day to deliver, upgrade, and maintain the country’s infrastructure. With more than 300 members split across eight regions, CECA represents firms who together carry out an estimated 70-80 per cent of all civil engineering activity in the UK, in the key sectors of transport, energy, communications, waste and water.

4. About the Electrical Contractors Association: ECA is the UK’s largest trade association representing electrotechnical and engineering services organisations, at regional, national and European level. Member firms have a combined turnover in excess of £6 billion annually. Member firms carry out design, installation, inspection, testing, maintenance and monitoring activity across the domestic, commercial, industrial and public sectors. This ranges from power and lighting to data communications, to energy efficiency and renewables, as well as the design and installation of cutting-edge building control technologies. ECA’s 2,700 members range from SME electrotechnical businesses to nationwide engineering services organisations that employ thousands of professionals on major UK projects. www.eca.co.uk

5. About Northern Rail Industry Leaders (NRIL): NRIL brings together businesses to help develop and support the rail industry in the region. It brings together 40 rail organisations in the North of England, and in 2019 published its ‘Building the North’s New Railways’ Report. The Report looks at how rail suppliers, Transport for the North, Government and key organisations can work together to deliver the best for the region through rail investment.

6. About the Rail Freight Group: The Rail Freight Group (RFG) has been the UK’s leading rail freight trade association since its formation in 1990. It has over 100 corporate members active in all sectors of rail freight from ports, terminal operators, customers, through to operators and suppliers.  RFG's aim is to grow the volume of goods moved by rail, delivering environment and economic benefits for the UK.

7. About Rail Forum Midlands: Rail Forum Midlands (RFM) is the only regionally focussed rail trade organisation in the UK. Supporting the nationally and internationally important rail supply chain cluster across the Midlands RFM has over 200 members providing products and services across all aspects of the industry. RFM actively supports the national rail agenda and strategy, encouraging collaboration, promoting members’ capabilities, leading a number of regional skills initiatives and supporting innovation and export priorities. RFM is owned and governed by its members with a Board drawn from member companies.   www.midlandsrail.co.uk

8. About the Railway Industry Association: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. We promote and represent our members’ interests to policy makers, clients and other stakeholders in the UK and overseas. RIA has 300+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry. https://www.riagb.org.uk/

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