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Railway Industry publishes new paper outlining many benefits of rail electrification

Railway Industry Association

2 min read Partner content

Following the launch of the RailDecarb23 campaign, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) has today published a new paper which brings together the key benefits of rail electrification, from lower costs to reduced journey times.

Rail Electrification: The Facts sets out the immense benefits of electrification above and beyond decarbonisation. The paper argues that electric railways are better railways in almost all respects, with key benefits including:

  • Costs: Over the life of a train, an electric railway is the cheapest to operate, even factoring in electrification construction costs. Saving £2-3m a vehicle;
  • Reliability: Electric trains are 40% - 300% more reliable than diesel trains;
  • Efficiency: Electric trains are 3 times more efficient than diesel or hydrogen trains. Reducing energy demands;
  • Journey Times and Capacity: Electric trains accelerate more quickly, allowing more trains and capacity on a route; and
  • Freight: Electric freight trains are faster and longer, supporting both taking more lorries off our roads and passenger capacity.

The paper has been published a few weeks after the launch of RIA’s RailDecarb23 campaign, which calls on the Government to take action now to enable the rail industry to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and reach Net Zero by 2050.

Commenting, Co-author and Director at Furrer+Frey, Noel Dolphin said:

"An electric railway is the most efficient method for transporting passengers and freight, ultimately resulting in long-term reduced operational costs. Not only does this contribute to our critical goal of decarbonisation, but it also paves the way for a superior railway experience that is more reliable, cost-effective, and able to accommodate increased capacity."

RIA’s Technical Director, David Clarke, said:

“As part of RIA RailDecarb23 campaign, we’re calling on the Government to dramatically accelerate the pace of rail electrification. Doing so will be essential if we are to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and achieve a Net Zero railway by 2050.

“The regrettable fact is that these targets are set to be missed as the pace and trajectory of rail electrification is simply inadequate. Official statistics show that in 2021/22, just 2.2km of the railway was electrified.  

“While faster decarbonisation is one of the key advantages of electrification, it’s far from the only benefit. As this new paper outlines, electrification improves the railway in a myriad of other ways, including increased reliability, reduced costs and better journey times – to name just a few!”


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