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Consultation on electrification strateggy launched

06/04/2009 AT 22:33

The network route utilisation strategy on electrification, currently in draft form, forms part of a consultation on a long-term plan being developed by Network Rail in collaboration with industry partners to meet rising passenger and freight demand across the country. The electrification RUS outlines the benefits and value for money more electrification can bring, such as reducing the costs of running the railway, increasing capacity and lowering CO2 emissions.

Iain Coucher, Network Rail's chief executive, said: "The consensus for expanding our electrified network is growing. The evidence outlined in this strategy sets out a positive case for a long-term commitment to electrification.

"Electric trains are not only better for the environment, but are quieter and smoother for passengers while causing less wear and tear to the track. They are more reliable and often faster. Further electrification will also help open up more diversionary routes so that we can keep people on trains and off buses as we carry out planned rail improvement work.

"Our plans to develop an engineering method that can install power lines quickly, and efficiently, without disrupting services and at a cost that is affordable are already at an advanced stage."

Compared to diesel traction, electric services have lower rolling stock operating costs, higher levels of train reliability and availability and lower leasing costs. The superior acceleration of electric trains can also help reduce journey times. Electric trains also provide more seats than diesel trains increasing capacity, while electric freight locomotives can haul longer trains.

Electrification can also play a role in reducing carbon emissions as well as improving air quality and reducing noise. Electric vehicles, on average, emit 20% to 30% fewer CO2 emissions than diesel.

Currently only 40% of the rail network is electrified, including most of the south east of England, and the main lines from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as the Merseyrail network around Liverpool and the Glasgow suburban network.

In the current economic climate, any investment will inevitably raise questions about affordability even where there are clear longer term cost savings, and the industry will need to work with government and other funders on this.

Were the funding secured for further electrification, the RUS recommends that the busiest 3,000miles of non-electrified routes should be electrified as a priority to achieve the greatest benefit. These routes include:
- The Midland Main Line, including services from London St Pancras to Sheffield
- Great Western Main Line covering services from London Paddington
- Strategic infill to provide more diversionary routes

The draft Network RUS: Electrification was drawn up by Network Rail on behalf of the rail industry, and received significant contributions from industry stakeholders including the Department for Transport (DfT), Transport Scotland, Welsh Assembly Government, Transport for London (TfL), The Passenger Transport Executive Group, Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and Freight Operating Companies.

Network Rail will now carry out a formal 60 day consultation with industry partners and following consideration of any comments the strategy will be finalised and submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation to become an established strategy. In parallel, we will continue working with the Government as they assess the case for funding for a rolling programme of electrification.

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