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CILT Urges UK Government to Electrify Rail Freight Operations for Net-Zero Goals

CILT Urges UK Government to Electrify Rail Freight Operations for Net-Zero Goals
photo: Archive/CILT Urges UK Government to Electrify Rail Freight Operations for Net-Zero Goals
13 / 03 / 2023

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport has published a report affirming that transitioning from a predominantly diesel-powered rail freight operation to a modern electric network poses no significant risks. The professional association has concluded that such a step-change would represent a cost-effective investment that would place Britain in a competitive position. According to the report, the transition would cost no more than a single modest road project while offering far better value for money.

The report suggests that with an investment of just ¬£50m ($68m), Britain could transform its rail freight network, adding around two million zero-carbon train miles per year, which equates to eighty million road truck miles. According to CILT, the investment would be less than a single modest road project's cost and offer far better value for money.

The CILT report comes in response to the UK parliamentary transport committee report, Fuelling the Future, which urges the government to commit to an electrified railway. The CILT research also reveals that 95% of UK freight trains can be electrified, with only 800 miles (1280km) of additional electrification needed. The report recommends an electrification program of 40 route miles (64 km) per annum for 20 years, for £100m ($136m) per annum to meet decarbonization and net-zero goals.

The electrification strategy research identifies three priority areas for electrification, with the first phase focusing on the cross-country route from Felixstowe to the Midlands and North. The second phase would electrify the link from Britain's third-largest container port at Southampton to inland markets. The third phase would involve routes from major quarries and cement works in the Peak District and the Mendips, feeding into the Midland Main Line, currently tabled for electrification. The CILT strategy would enable around 95% of UK freight trains to be hauled by electric locomotives by the mid-2040s, reducing carbon emissions considerably.

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