TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has described the Government’s newly launched Net Zero Strategy as “lacking ambition” for the railways and “ignores the urgency of the climate crisis" for the planet.
The strategy, published today, sets our plans for a ‘net zero rail network by 2050’, with an ambition to remove all diesel-only trains (passenger and freight) from the network by 2040’.
It also commits to ‘extra capacity on our rail network to meet growing passenger and freight demand and support significant shifts from road and air to rail’.
Commenting, union leader Cortes said: “Sadly the Government’s strategy underscores their appalling lack of ambition when it comes to our railways and ignores the urgency of the climate crisis which faces us all.
“If Ministers think that a net zero rail network by 2050 is acceptable then they are just full of hot air. The target should be 2030, with a firm commitment to remove all diesel-only trains by the same date.
“This is all perfectly possible and Ministers serious about our climate crisis would be going to COP26 with those targets firmly in their sights, not kicking matters into the long grass.
“Yes, any commitment for greater capacity and more freight on our rail network is a good thing in the fight for the future of our planet. However, evidence that Boris Johnson and his mates are serious is sorely lacking.
“For too long the Tories have dragged their heels on the electrification of our railways. Now it looks like the Eastern leg of High Speed 2 (HS2) is about to be cancelled. We are going backwards under this Government."
The full section on rail from the Net Zero Strategy reads as follows....
23. We will deliver a net zero rail network by 2050, with sustained carbon reductions in rail along the way. Our ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains (passenger and freight) from the network by 2040. We will deploy new low-carbon technologies on the network such as hydrogen and battery trains, where they make operational and economic sense. We will incentivise the early take up of low carbon traction by the rail freight industry.
24. We will build extra capacity on our rail network to meet growing passenger and freight demand and support significant shifts from road and air to rail. This includes new high-speed lines, reopening lines closed under the Beeching cuts and significant improvement to regional city public transport networks with the aim of making them as good as London’s’.