Depiction of Keeping GB Rail decarbonisation on track

Keeping GB Rail decarbonisation on track

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Transport is a major polluter, so rail’s green credentials are vital to achieving net zero.

The Rail Delivery Group asked Oxera to show how an investment programme to decarbonise GB rail would benefit the planet, but also the wider UK economy and society.

A spotlight on the broader benefits

Big changes need big commitments. As the UK government faces calls to fund the infrastructure needed for UK trains to run on green energy, it’s paramount to scope the wider benefits that this investment could deliver.

We called on the expertise of IPEX and the National Skills Academy for Rail to tackle the questions around rail decarbonisation. Together, we drew up a technical programme that combined electrification of the rail network and the use of battery technology on trains, which would enable them to run without relying on diesel fuel by 2050.

Using the capital expenditure profile generated by that programme, we estimated the number and nature of the jobs that would be created, as well where they would be located and the skill levels required—enabling us to estimate the economic value of the programme.

Supporting the green industrial revolution

Our analysis revealed a range of wider economic benefits from rail decarbonisation, including:

  • that investing in decarbonisation would support up to 6,000 jobs across the UK
  • that these jobs could deliver over £2bn of economic value to the UKeconomy
  • that the rail industry’s commitment to green energy could catalyse investment, increase the UK’s wind and hydrogen production capabilities, and support high-value manufacturing, such as of batteries and rolling stock
  • that phasing out diesel trains would remove toxic air pollutants, bringing estimated public health benefits of £2.2bn
  • the value of GB rail carbon reduction, equating to around £6bn (based on BEIS carbon price assumptions)

In sum, our work on behalf of the Rail Delivery Group showed how good rail decarbonisation can be for the wider UK economy, its people, and the planet as a whole.

You can find our full report for the Rail Delivery Group here.

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