Rail Minister announces diesel trains to be phased out by 2040

Posted On: 
12th February 2018

Diesel-only trains are set to be taken out of service by 2040 in a bid to reduce air pollution, the Rail Minister will say today.

Diesel-only trains will be phased out by 2040
Credit: 
PA

In a speech later, Jo Johnson will call on the rail industry to phase out diesel engines over the next twenty years and embrace low-emission technology and alternative fuels such as hydrogen units instead.

He will say: “I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040.  

Heathrow moves to improve local air quality

Government air quality plan – the devil will be in the detail says RHA

Diesel scrappage scheme 'to feature in air quality strategy'

“If that seems like an ambitious goal, it should be and I make no apology for that.

“After all we’re committed to ending the sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?”

The Government announced last year that new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be banned from 2040 as part of a drive to improve air quality.

In his first speech since taking up his new role, Mr Johnson will add: “Many thought transport would become less necessary as the Internet grew, but we’re travelling twice as much as we did in 1970, and while this mobility spurs economic growth, there’s a price to pay in pollution and carbon emissions.

“This Government is now injecting record levels of investment in the railway to help it grow further. But alongside increased funding, the industry also needs to modernise. Compared with other transport sectors, progress has been palpably slow.”

Mr Johnson will also call for tests to begin soon on hydrogen-powered trains. 

“Alternative-fuel trains powered entirely by hydrogen are a prize on the horizon and I’d like to see hydrogen train trials on the UK railway as soon as possible because hydrogen offers an affordable – and potentially much cleaner – alternative to diesel."