Today, 22nd April, the Railway Industry Association launches a new report ‘Why Rail Electrification’ which explains exactly why electrification is a future-proof technology that gives electric trains greater range, efficiency and lower operating costs than self-powered traction. Thus, rail decarbonisation requires large-scale electrification and is also a good investment.
On the back of this report, an open letter has been sent to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP, signed by more than 15 rail businesses, as well as industry and campaign groups, which calls for a programme of rail electrification to begin as soon as possible to meet the Government’s legally binding Net Zero commitments.
The report can be considered to be the definitive industry view of electrification. As well as the industry support expressed in the letter to Grant Shapps, in his foreword to the report Professor Felix Schmid, Chair of the Railway Division of the IMechE, advises that “he is certain that it represents fairly the view of engineers throughout the industry”.
The report’s lead author, David Shirres, Editor of Rail Engineer magazine, notes that “If Britain is to decarbonise, transport has to be weaned off petroleum for which the only zero-carbon alternative is electricity. However, electricity can only be transmitted to fixed locations and then converted into another form of energy for on-board vehicle storage which significantly limits power and range. In contrast, electric trains collect electricity on the move from fixed current collection systems and feed it straight into their motors without any energy conversion losses. Hence, they offer efficient high-powered Net Zero carbon traction with large passenger, freight and operational benefits.”
David hopes that the report will be read by decision makers to enable them to understand exactly why electrification offers such advantages and convince them that, whilst there is a role for battery and hydrogen trains, they can never replace the requirement for a large-scale electrification programme if rail is to decarbonise.
The ‘Why Rail Electrification’ report is available at www.riagb.org.uk/WhyElectrification.