Memorandum submitted by Network Rail (LCT 45)

 

Summary

 

o Rail is key to delivering a green economy for the UK. It is a mode that allows people and goods to travel en masse quickly, sustainably, easily and affordably;

o It carries a record 3.5 million passengers (a 6.1% market share) and 1.4 million tonnes of freight a day while contributing just 0.4% to the UK's domestic carbon dioxide emissions (with road travel contributing nearly 20%);

o The average carbon dioxide emissions for a passenger rail journey is about half that of an equivalent car journey and about one-quarter of an equivalent journey by air. Rail freight produces a 74% reduction in carbon emissions over road freight;

o The amount of passengers and freight carried on Britain railways is at record levels. Passenger numbers have grown by 40% and freight levels by 50% in the last decade alone;

o The drivers behind this growth will continue in future with 30% growth in passenger numbers anticipated over the next ten years. Passenger and freight could possibly double over the next 30 years and even triple in the longer term;

o With the introduction of new lower carbon technologies, rail will become even faster, greener and more sustainable. Network Rail, in partnership with rest of the industry, is committed to range of measures to reduce our energy usage and improve environmental performance further still;

o Government should actively favour rail over other modes of transport where rail provides the best transport solution. It should act now to introduce a low carbon transport strategy which promotes sustainable economic growth based on a commitment to long term investment in rail, including additional capacity on the existing network, new high speed lines and further electrification; the introduction of fair transport pricing structures at a UK and EU level that reflect the climate impact of various modes; and an integrated, whole journey approach that better integrates rail with other low carbon modes.

 

Rail's low carbon credentials

 

1. Man made greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, are leading to a damaging warming of the Earth.

 

2. Government faces the twin challenge of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, culminating in an 80% cut by 2050, while also supporting economic growth.

 

3. Rail can play a key role in delivering a growing, green economy as a mode that allows people and goods to travel en masse quickly, sustainably, easily and affordably. Rail is the most sustainable mode of transport for long-distance travel, for mass commuting and for freight.

 

4. The rail network carries 3.5 million passengers a day, the highest ever (representing a 6.1% share of the passenger market), while contributing less than half a percent to the UK's domestic carbon dioxide emissions (with road contributing just under 20%). Total rail CO2 emissions are estimated at 3.3 million tonnes for 2006/07 of which 2.7 million tonnes is from passenger rail and 0.6 million from freight rail[1].

 

5. Rail emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, are also considerably less than aviation, car and road freight. The average carbon dioxide emissions for a passenger rail journey is about half that of an equivalent car journey and about one-quarter of an equivalent journey by air (see below).

 

Figure 1: Normalised operational carbon emissions by different modes (UK)[2];

 

Passenger Mode

gCO2 per passenger km

 

Freight mode

gCO2 per tonne km

National Rail

61

 

Rail

32

Underground

79

 

HGVs

120

Light rail / tram

84

 

 

 

Cars

140

 

 

 

Bus & Coach

69

 

 

 

Air

173

 

 

 

 

6. Therefore, rail provides a lower carbon alternative to road and air travel in many markets by providing quick, high volume travel over short and long-distances on a dedicated network.

 

7. Shifting more existing and new journeys on to trains from roads and the air in future will reduce the need for road and air travel, thereby relieving traffic and airport congestion and reducing pollution from these less sustainable transport modes.

 

Further investment in rail

 

8. Passenger numbers have increased by 40% and the amount of freight carried has increased by 50% in the last decade alone.

 

9. As the drivers behind this growth continue in future - particularly climate change, a growing economy and increasing road congestion - this demand is set to carry on increasing.

 

10. Growth of 30% in passenger numbers is anticipated over the next ten years and passenger and freight demand could double over the next 30 years and even triple in the longer term.

 

11. With the introduction of new lower carbon technology, rail will become even faster, greener and more reliable and efficient. Network Rail, in partnership with rest of the industry, is also committed to range of measures to reduce our energy usage and improve our environmental performance further still.

 

12. However, the rail industry will only be able to meet this increasing passenger and freight demand while also further reducing its impact on the climate if Government actively favours rail over other modes as part of a transport strategy which promotes sustainable economic growth.

 

13. We believe that Government should act now to implement such a strategy based on:

 

o a long term commitment to invest in rail, including new high speed lines and further electrification;

o the introduction of fair transport pricing structures at a UK and EU level that reflect the climate impact of various modes;

o an integrated, whole journey approach that better integrates rail with other low carbon modes.

 

14. On investment, Network Rail would like to see specific government commitments to fund new high speed lines and further electrification, which will deliver considerable carbon benefits (as set out below). While railway projects require significant levels of upfront funding, recent Network Rail reports on new lines and electrification show that these investments more than pay for themselves over time. But investment in these projects must not be at the expense of sustaining the existing network, as this is also critical to the economy and its sustainable development.

 

15. As a shorter term measure to move towards a fairer carbon taxation system for transport we hope that the UK in particular, and EU member states in general, will support reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on CO2 emissions. Reform is necessary to ensure that all transport modes contribute fairly and equally to a reduction CO2 emissions based on the polluter pays principle.

 

16. This is not currently the case since railways are unfairly affected by ETS compared to other transport modes, which emit the majority of CO2 , because the emissions trading by the energy sector is passed on to the rail industry, which relies so much on electricity to power its trains.

 

17. Electricity powers 80% of Europe's rail network and 40% of Britain's (and this is set to increase significantly with the new 1.1 billion electrification programme and, hopefully, further electrification in future).

 

18. While rail is burdened with a huge additional cost (which could amount to an extra 500 million euros per year from 2013[3]), emissions from the road and water sectors are not even included in the ETS scheme while air receives a higher allocation of trading certificates for free.

 

19. In the run up to the Copenhagen summit, we very much hope that the UK Government will work with other member states to compensate our sector for the consequences of the current design of the ETS, in the short term, and address it through structural reform of ETS in the longer term. This would help avoid unintended consequences of encouraging uneconomic modal shift.

 

Specific low carbon rail investments

 

o New high speed lines

 

20. Network Rail very much welcomes the growing political consensus on the need for more high speed rail in this country and we hope this will lead to firm Government commitments and timetables for delivering it.

 

21. In August this year, Network Rail published a new lines study setting out options for a new high speed line. It recommended a new high speed line connecting London with Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh and highlighted the substantial environmental as well as economic and social benefits of doing so.

 

22. Network Rail found that this new line would reduce road vehicle journeys 3.8m a year and flights by 2.8m (see page 58 of new lines strategic business case) a year by 2030, reducing CO2 emissions annually by 39,000 tonnes and 250,000 tonnes respectively.

 

23. The study also found that this high speed line would also generate revenue and benefits worth almost 55 billion, paying for itself 1.8 times over.

 

o A rolling programme of electrification

 

24. About 40% of the UK rail network (measured in track miles) is currently electrified accounting for approximately 60% of train miles (two thirds of the electrified network is equipped with overhead lines, whilst the remainder of the system is predominantly third rail). Of the total current carbon emissions from rail, around 43% is electric and 57% is diesel[4].

 

25. This presents an opportunity for any extension of the electrified network to convert more services to electric traction than may have been expected.

 

26. This year the DfT announced a 1.1 billion programme for Network Rail to electrify the Great Western Mainline and Chat Moss line connecting Liverpool and Manchester.

 

27. Network Rail very much welcomes this announcement but we believe it should mark the start of a rolling programme of electrification, given the clear environmental benefits it brings. In Particular, Network Rail would like to see the Government commit to the electrification of the Midland Mainline.

 

28. Network Rail's recently published Electrification Route Utilisation Strategy concludes that the electrification of the Midland main line - the main route from London St Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield - has an extremely attractive business case and could, over the course of 60 years, pay for itself with the savings made from cheaper running costs and maintenance outweighing the initial investment to electrify the route.

 

29. Electrification will also allow rail to become the only transport mode currently able to use renewable energy on a large scale if the electricity can be generated from renewable sources. In its Low Carbon Transition Plan, government has set out plans to for the decarbonisation of power generation in the UK. Thus in the foreseeable future the environmental benefits of electrification will grow rapidly.

 

o Manchester Hub

 

30. Manchester Hub is the collective name given to a variety of schemes that, in the long term, could provide much quicker, more reliable journeys with more capacity right across the north of England. The step change in rail services this would achieve would bring significant benefits including: a boost to the economy of up to 16 billion and continued growth in the number of people choosing to travel by rail.

 

31. Network Rail is working with industry partners and stakeholders to identify the schemes that would deliver the benefits. Each option will be assessed for the scale of benefits delivered and whether they represent value for money. Network Rail will then look to undertake schemes that meet these thresholds from 2014 and beyond.

 

32. Network Rail is looking at schemes on all the lines that go through or to Manchester from across the North, including:

 

o Leeds and Sheffield across the Pennines, as well as to the East Midlands

o Liverpool and Preston to the west

o Connections to cities elsewhere and to Manchester Airport

 

33. The objectives of the Manchester Hub project are:

 

o to make rail the preferable alternative to road for passengers on key intercity and commuter routes across and around the North

o to use the railways as a catalyst for sustainable economic growth across the North by investing in existing network capacity and reducing journey times.

 

34. Network Rail's study into how this can be achieved in the medium to long terms will be complete in January 2010.

 

December 2009



[1] Passenger statistics from Association of Train Operating Companies and carbon dioxide contribution figures from the rail industry submission to the Climate Change Committee from May 2008.

[2] From DEFRA conversion factors 2009. Car statistic converted to passenger km using Transport Statistic GB 2008 data

 

[3] Study by Infras Zurich cited in a Joint Decleration by the Chairmen of the European Railways on the Effects of the EU ETS on Railways, September 2009

[4] Rail industry submission to the Climate Change Committee (May 2008)