Dumping Diesel - Johnson calls for end of diesel-only trains

Jo Johnson sets 2040 deadline for diesel-only trains on UK railways.

The Clean Growth Strategy tallied another win yesterday as Jo Johnson made his first speech as Transport Minister at the British Museum, in which he called for diesel-only trains to be phased out under a new vision that aims to decarbonize the nation’s railway. 

Mr. Johnson said it was time “to end our reliance on fossil fuels” and “clean up transport emissions”.

2040 is now set to be the year by which the sale of petrol and diesel cars, and the operation of diesel-only trains, ends. “If that seems like an ambitious goal, it should be and I make no apology for that.” An ambitious goal indeed, but the focus on hydrogen is somewhat unsurprising, given that “total electrification of our tracks is unlikely to be the only or most cost-effective way to secure these environmental benefits”, a concept well demonstrated by the scrapping of the Cardiff to Swansea, Midland Mainline and Lake District line electrification efforts mid-last year.

Mr. Johnson asserted that bi-mode trains will work as “bridging technology” until we have other low emission technologies. Rail industry actors have been tasked with developing the vision for how they will support decarbonization efforts, with Mr. Johnson expecting “the industry to report back by the autumn.” The RIA have acknowledged the challenge, but believe it is one that the industry is capable of and willing to accept. Modernising and decarbonising efforts will also be accompanied by environmental performance targets for each rail franchise.

Wrapping up his speech, Mr. Johnson expressed his optimism about the opportunity that the rail sector has to create a cleaner, greener transport system for the UK.

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