Our latest report calls on the Government to commit to decarbonising Britain’s railways by 2040 by making a “transformative investment” in a national high speed rail network.

Responding to the Department for Transport’s consultation: Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge outlines how as a new, zero carbon transport spine for Britain, HS2 is central to the development of the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, recognising its potential to transform travel patterns and reduce emissions across the network.

The submission makes clear that high speed rail must become the longer distance mode of choice for travellers, in particular the ever-growing leisure travel segment. There must be a focus on personal mileage, not trip numbers, when assessing carbon emissions in order to shift longer distance, and more carbon intensive, travel to rail- most notably domestic aviation. At present, almost half of surface transport emissions come from trips over 15 miles, whilst nearly a quarter of emissions from 50+ mile trips. As such, we have called on the Government to publish an interurban or national Future of Mobility strategy to orchestrate innovation for this longer distance travel. Rail freight must also be considered within this category. With the freed-up capacity created by HS2, ambitious targets should be set to shift freight from road to rail, starting with a doubling of rail freight mileage when HS2 opens in 2030.

As decarbonisation requires such rapid change, there is also a danger of focusing entirely on only the most direct emissions. Our submission makes the case for considering wider, whole life carbon impacts beyond the transport sector, including through land use implications of rail.

You can read the full report here: Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge