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Government pressed to 'electrify more rail lines to meet net zero target'

15 June 2019

The sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport is pressing the Government to restart the programme to electrify more of Britain's rail network to meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The charity is raising its concerns as it publishes research showing that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from transport are likely to stall unless rail electrification schemes are resumed as part of the Government's plans to achieve net zero.

The report found that rail is currently the greenest major form of transport and releases up to 85 per cent less carbon emissions per passenger kilometre than other forms of transport. Growth in rail travel has supported a reduction in carbon emissions but the Government's cancellation of rail electrification schemes is undermining this and making it more difficult to achieve the net zero target.

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The Government cannot meet its climate change commitments through its current plans for the railway.

"Without restarting the programme to electrify rail routes, it is difficult to see how the UK can meet its net zero targets. Rail is a very sustainable form of transport and should be at the centre of the wider efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

"The Rail Review needs to establish environmental goals as a key objective for the railways. Making that a reality requires an early commitment to restarting an electrification programme."

The Committee on Climate Change net zero report found that transport is now the largest source of greenhouse gases. In contrast to the rest of the economy, emissions from the sector rose between 2013 and 2017 and are higher now than they were in 1990. Meeting a net zero target will require concerted action on transport with the Committee recommending the establishment of a rolling programme of electrifications.

Campaign for Better Transport's research, which was undertaken in conjunction with industry consultants Teneo, has been published as part of its submission to the Williams Rail Review.

ENDS

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

Notes to Editors

1. Read the Campaign for Better Transport report in full.

2. The Government has cancelled a series of electrification projects, most recently in 2017 when it scrapped plans to electrify the Midland Main Line to Nottingham and Sheffield, the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff and Swansea and the Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere.

3. On 12 June 2019 the Government announced that it will legislate for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

4. The Committee on Climate Change net zero report can be read online. 

4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).

5. Teneo is a global advisory firm, working with the CEOs and leaders of the world's largest and most complex companies.

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