Government needs to kick-start a ‘rolling programme’ of rail electrification, say business, passenger, freight, and community groups.

A number of industry bodies, including ECA, have published a joint letter urging the government to kick-start a rolling programme of rail electrification, in order to decarbonise the rail network by 2040.

The letter, coordinated by the Rail Industry Association, was supported by other bodies representing thousands of businesses and organisations from across transport, business and construction.

The signatories urged the government to end the ‘stop-start’ nature of past electrification schemes and to introduce a ring-fenced ‘rolling programme’ fund that allows the rail industry to extend electrified track over several years.

Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) energy advisor Luke Osborne said: “The UK’s railway system, particularly in the North, is in desperate need of investment and decarbonisation to bring it into the 21st Century. Electrification of the railways is fundamental to getting zero carbon done.”

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “Kick-starting a programme of electrification on intensively-used rail is essential if the government is serious about delivering on its goal to decarbonise UK rail by 2040. Not only are electrified trains key to decarbonisation, electrified tracks are more reliable, reduce costs in the long term and shorten journey times too. Research conducted by RIA has shown that the costs of electrification schemes can be lowered by up to 50 per cent compared to some past projects, particularly if supported by a ‘rolling programme’ of work to avoid the expensive and inefficient ‘feast and famine’ approach to investment in the past. So we urge the transport secretary to make this a top priority as the new government develops its infrastructure strategy in the months ahead.”