DECARBONISATION IS SPELT E-L-E-C-T-R-I-F-Y
In February 2018, the Government set out plans to eliminate diesel-only passenger trains from the network by 2040.
As the largest single source of emissions on the rail network, a Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce was duly assembled to consider pathways to achieving this ambitious target.
In 2019, the Taskforce confirmed that it could be done through a “judicious and balanced” mix of cost-effective electrification alongside the targeted deployment of hydrogen and battery technology.
Supported by the Railway Industry Association’s Electrification Cost Challenge, the Taskforce said that progressive electrification of the most intensively used lines was the lowest whole-life cost and whole-life carbon solution.
In September Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Study (TDNS) reinforced this message by recommending almost 12,000 standard track kilometres (stks) of electrification, battery operation over 400 stks, and hydrogen operation over 900 stks.
The Government will now consider this information before publishing its
Transport Decarbonisation plan early next year.
RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge report provided lessons and insight from SYSTRA’s involvement in a number of electrification schemes globally. This includes in Denmark, where rail network owner Banedanmark has been advised by SYSTRA on the electrification of more than 1,300km of line since 2013.
SYSTRA fully supports the output of the report which will improve the efficiency of delivery of electrification schemes going forward.
Michael Toher, SYSTRA’s Head of Business Development in Conventional Rail, says: “We’ve been involved in electrification for a number of years on schemes including the Great Western Electrification Programme (GWEP), so we’ve seen the challenges faced by wiring in the UK, but also the successes such as the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP).
“We also work closely with industry groups including Northern Rail Industry Leaders (NRIL), where we offer our opinions and thoughts on electrification to Network Rail and Transport for the North, and will now respond to the TDNS both through the NRIL forum and as an individual company.
“Decarbonisation has been on the agenda for a while. But we are at a pivotal point because the benefits of electrification are not just about air quality and the environment, but also helping modal shift - because when you take diesel trains off the network you are offering a better transport solution.
“We share the view that decarbonisation is spelt E-L-E-C-T-R-I-F-Y, and we are keen to push the agenda and add our voice to the prioritisation of routes once we get a commitment from government around the spend profile for schemes.”
He adds: “We believe that we have invested heavily in this country and abroad on electrification capability, and have a team that has been at the leading edge of this as a discipline.
“We can show from our portfolio of projects that we can meet RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge. What we need now is commitment from government for a rolling programme of electrification.”