The UK has set itself a legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and rail travel will be crucial to realising this.
As the UK’s economy begins to recover from the unprecedented challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, we need to ensure that the rail plays its part in fostering a green recovery.
Rail is already a low-carbon form of transport, accounting for 10% of total journeys but only 1.4% of total transport emissions and about 0.5% of the UK total emissions, making it an environmentally friendly way to transport people and goods across the country.
However, there is much more to do to reach net zero. With the right infrastructure and holistic transport policies in place, rail can play a leading role in the decarbonisation of the transport sector.
In July 2020, the Rail Delivery Group published its proposals for a cleaner and greener future, by:
Even though 2050 is a generation away, infrastructure and policy decisions made now will directly affect the UK’s ability to meet its net zero target in a cost-effective way. Our step-by-step approach to decarbonising rail will smooth the transition to the 2050 target and deliver real carbon reductions to the UK over the next 30 years.
Underpinning this remains the importance of running a customer-focussed, punctual and reliable railway. Getting these “basics” right will remain essential if the railway is to remain an attractive mode of transport in years to come.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted realities, and there has been much discussion as to the long-term impact of the virus, and in particular how people’s travel patterns will be affected. Increasing railway patronage to pre-pandemic levels will be essential if we are to meet the Government’s legal commitment of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In making the green case for rail investment, we are proposing: