Phasing out diesel on rail passenger services in Britain
- The British government has set a target of 2040 or earlier if possible for rail transport to be decarbonised.
- Network Rail has produced an interim Rail Decarbonisation Network Strategy (RDNS) setting its overall strategy. A more detailed prioritised plan is due by end 2020.
- The Scottish government has:
- devolved responsibility for rail in Scotland
- set its own target of 2035
- produced an overall decarbonisation plan. A more detailed plan is due by end 2020.
- The Welsh government has funding for the electrified S Wales Metro in the Welsh valleys, but has currently no jurisdiction over decarbonisation in the rest of Wales.
- Various regional bodies in England, such as Transport for the North and Midlands Connect, have produced an overall rail strategy for their region. These concentrate on reducing journey times, and are not specifically about decarbonisation. This will however have to be taken into account at some point.
Decarbonising other transport modes depends on progress in on-board power technologies that do not need fossil fuels. Rail decarbonisation can be achieved by electrifying the track, not the trains. Current on-board technologies should be sufficient to replace most non-main-line diesels in England, and over the next 5-10 years battery technology should advance to outperform diesel in all respects, bringing all lines in Britain within range. At the same time, main lines with higher passenger numbers and performance requirements justify electrification of tracks. Completing this by 2035 should be achievable. Progress in both track electrification and on-board technologies can be reviewed in 10 years time, to assess whether further track electrification is justified, and how to proceed with remaining diesel freight services.
So, the background pages on this site describe the fast-moving technologies and where they're heading, the status with competing transport modes, and the progress in some continental countries. Further pages discuss the current status in Britain, the assumptions and suggested priorities. The map pages illustrate this. Further pages describe the maps and how to use them; how to help with updating both textual and map pages; and a references page gives links to documents mentioned on this site, plus others for further relevant information.
Use the menu above to navigate to these pages.