THE BRIEFING ON UK RAIL DECARBONISATION
Five innovative projects are to receive £350,000 each from the government to adapt their schemes for the rail network
Given to solar panels that directly power trains, and a system that uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce steam to power engines are two of the funded projects
Battery hybrid trains expected on the Lakes Line in the early 2020s could be an early example of the new technology
The DfT last year set a challenge for cutting emissions and removing diesel-only trains from the network by 2040
A report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK says that investment in hydrogen trains is vital to improving air quality, but it should be not considered an alternative to electrification schemes. The report, however, supports the introduction of hydrogen trains on non-electrified routes to improve air quality. Additionally, the report highlights that hydrogen requires a large amount of storage space, making it unsuitable for freight and high-speed trains.
Minister of State at the Department for Transport Jo Johnson called for diesel-only trains to be phased out as part of new vision to decarbonise the railway. "It’s vital we stimulate the knowledge economy by improving transport throughout the country,” he said in a speech on 12 February.
Source: Department for Transport
On 31 January 2019, the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Task Force and RSSB published an initial report outlining a credible set of technical options to address the challenge set by Jo Johnson the year before. The taskforce has concluded that it should be possible to remove all diesel-only passenger trains from the network by 2040. The case for freight is much less clear-cut. Only diesel has the energy density and go anywhere capability necessary for freight operation on the network in accordance with current operating requirements. RSSB is commissioning further work to look at the specific challenges for the freight sector.
Rail Minister Andrew Jones said:
“This funding will be vital in helping these fantastic projects adapt to the demands of rail and enable their potential roll-out, delivering a cleaner, healthier network for passengers. It also underlines the shared commitment of government and industry to ensuring we have a modern railway that protects our environment.”
Simon Edmonds, Manufacturing, Materials & Mobility Director, Innovate UK said:
“The pioneering projects for which we have announced funding today can reduce both the costs and the carbon footprint of the railway industry and help innovative companies succeed, both here and in export markets.”