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Electrification of railways sees CO2 emissions fall

CO2 emissions from passenger rail has fallen in the last year as a result of the use of greener energy sources as part of electrifying the UK railway, new statistics from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) have shown.

Overall CO2 emissions have decreased by 6.6% for passenger services and 2.9% for freight, continuing the trend of falling emissions per passenger km since 2005-06.

The report says that in 2017-18 passenger trains consumed 3,645m kWh of electricity, a 3.5% increase from 2016-17, and 496m litres of diesel, a 1.1% decrease.

These services still produced 2,765 KT of CO2 emissions, 40.8g CO2 per passenger km, which is down 6.9% from 2016-27.

The report said that there was a total of 5,766km of electrified route by the end of 2017-18, which has increased by 2% or 392km compared to the previous year.

A total of 36% of UK rail is now equipped with electric infrastructure, with Network rail’s electrification scheme currently on-going in areas in London, Scotland and on western routes.

The government has a legally binding Fifth Carbon Budget which says emissions must be reduced by 57% by 2032 compared to emission levels in 1990, and an 80% reduction by 2050.

The ORR’s report says that the fall in CO2 emissions is despite rises in the number of passengers and rises in energy usage.

David Clarke, the technical director of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Today’s findings from the ORR show the benefits of continued electrification of the rail network for sustainability and the environment.

“It is clear that electrification must be part of the solution in meeting the government’s challenge to industry to decarbonise the rail network by 2040, alongside emerging hydrogen and battery technologies.”

 Image credit - Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images

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