Track electrification possible for 95% of UK goods trains

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport – CILT(UK) has published its study on electrification, which shows that electrification on the UK rail network has significant potential. CILT has released a detailed map and strategy showing the possibility of electrifying 95% of rail freight in the UK by 2045. The study shows that only 800 miles of additional electrification is needed in the UK to electrify 95% of rail freight. The first 60 miles of infill electrification is estimated to cost around £50m a year for two years – less than the cost of one road project – and represents a “no regrets” way to decarbonise key parts of the UK logistics system. Currently, only 10% of UK goods trains are pulled by electric locomotives and the UK lags behind its European counterparts when it comes to rail freight electrification. Moreover, CILT argues that an electrification programme of 40 miles per year for 20 years, at a cost of £100 million per year, is needed to realise this major opportunity for the UK to meet its decarbonisation and net-zero targets.

While decarbonisation technology for other modes of transport is still emerging and therefore sometimes difficult to introduce, electrified rail transport is a fully developed, proven green technology that has been in use for more than 60 years. CILT sees this opportunity as “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to decarbonising transport and reducing transport emissions. Based on a detailed analysis of UK rail freight data, the routes proposed for electrification lead from major container ports to inland distribution centres, which are key hubs in the supply chain, and from large quarries to urban areas requiring large quantities of construction materials. It also includes routes serving other key rail freight customers, such as the steel industry.