Press release 9th November 2021

Anger as rail is completely ignored at COP26

Wednesday is transport day at COP26 but campaigners are angry that rail seems to have been left off the agenda.

“The Government solution to zero emission vehicles seems to be road, road, road, battery, battery, battery. We think that yet again, the Government is skipping over the easy, proven, rail-based options  and is instead going for the choice that generates great headlines and sounds exciting.” said Railfuture director Neil Middleton. “Yes, electric road vehicles are an essential part of getting to global net zero – but focusing on electric road vehicles is the energy intensive option – more energy to build – including for their batteries, more energy to run – and more energy to recycle (think of the weight of all those batteries)”.

The International Energy Agency reminds us all that rail is much more carbon efficient  “On average, rail requires 12 times less energy and emits 7-11 times less greenhouse gas per passenger-km travelled than private vehicles and aeroplanes, making it the most efficient mode of motorised passenger transport”.

Chris Page, chair of Railfuture went on to comment “People see rail as green but won’t use it unless it is convenient, affordable and comfortable and government policy is actively preventing that by refusing to invest – and to support a service people want to use”.  Ian Brown, Railfuture’s policy director commented “The Treasury seem to see rail as a cost problem – but they should see it as in income opportunity – they are supporting an industry with high fixed costs and low marginal costs, so every time another fare is sold, almost all of that fare immediately leads to reduction in the Government’s net costs”.

Notes to editors:

So what, would Railfuture like to see tomorrow?
1. As the most sustainable form of transport, modal shift to rail becomes a key part of the solution
2. Because people see rail as green but won’t use it unless it is convenient, affordable and comfortable, the Government acts to encourage use of the current network (and thus increase fare revenue and reduce their net cost)
3. Government policy changes to encourage more freight by rail
4. Decarbonising (not just transport) won’t be cheap for anyone (if it was it would have happened already) and the Government starts to explain that properly and invests to make it happen

Railfuture will be marking COP26 Announcements against our needs list (which covers both COP26 and the Autumn Budget): Our Score card is at https://railfuture.org.uk/display2843. We’ll be posting this on social media tomorrow – on twitter.com/railfuture and sometimes with longer commentaries at www.facebook.com/Railfuture and on LinkedIn.
IEA (International Energy Agency): https://www.iea.org/reports/rail

Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.

Railfuture's website can be found at: www.railfuture.org.uk

Follow Railfuture on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Railfuture

For further information and comment please contact:

Neil Middleton, Railfuture director
Tel: Mobile: 07887 628367

Bruce Williamson, media spokesman
Tel: 0117 927 2954 Mobile: 07759 557389