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Government slammed for 'environmental failure' over scrapped rail electrification


Full electrification of the Midland Main Line would deliver £260M more greenhouse gas savings than using bi-mode trains in the same time frame, Department for Transport (DfT) figures show.

Rail minister Paul Maynard admitted that fully electric trains would deliver £271M in greenhouse gas savings over a 60 year period. Introducing bi-mode trains immediately to replace diesel delivers £11M of greenhouse gas emission savings over the same period, he said in response to repeated parliamentary questions from Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield. 

Blomfield said the government “must think again” about its decision to scrap electrification plans from Kettering to Nottingham and Sheffield following the revelation. The announcement made by transport secretary Chris Grayling this summer, which also involved the cancellation of two electrification schemes in South Wales and the North of England, was poorly received by industry experts.

Blomfield wrote on Facebook: “The government has finally admitted the huge cost to the environment of their failure to electrify the Midland Mainline.

“Their answer to my Parliamentary question has revealed that electrification would deliver more than 20 times the amount of greenhouse gas savings than using bi-mode trains that run on electric and diesel. The government must think again and electrify the main line.”

The trains that will be introduced on the line from 2022 have not yet been built or designed but the DfT said they will be the “cleanest ever” bi-mode trains. The Department said bidders for the next East Midlands franchise will be incentivised to reduce carbon emissions.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We are delivering the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870, rolling out new bi-mode trains across the route to give passengers more comfortable and reliable journeys.

“These new trains will deliver better journeys for passengers sooner, without the need for disruptive engineering work on the whole line”.

The assessments were made using the DfT’s transport analysis guidance in which environmental benefits, including noise, local air quality and greenhouse gases, are monetised and assessed over a 60-year appraisal period. 

Readers' comments (1)

  • How can government justify bi-modal locos? Why carry around all that extra weight (engine plus fuel) with extra refuelling facilities at depots and cost of imported diesel. Plus additional maintenance equipment and training diesel mechanics. Heavier locos will take longer to accelerate and slow down thus increasing journey time. Also heavier locos will damage track leading to more track maintenance. Not only will electric locos deliver more greenhouse gas savings but diesel locos will generate more noise. Diesel cars are being phased out but these bi-mode locos will be around for many more years. What a stupid short sighted decision!

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