SCOTLAND’s railway already has a lot electrified across the central belt between Clyde and Forth. Four routes are wired between Glasgow and Edinburgh – compare that with our cross-Pennine routes! North of the border only routes not for eventual electrification will lines in the far north, western Highlands and Stranraer, which are planned for hydrogen power.
Siemens (siemens.co.uk/sustainablemobility) the engineering company says “We need to go further and faster to decarbonise transport in Britain and fight climate change”, and advocates a transition solution of hydrogen/batteries for routes to Inverness and Aberdeen and in Fife, Ayr and to Tweedbank – “transition”, we take it, means temporary. This is a step in the right direction – and maybe an opportunity to sell hydrogen-powered trains. Siemens say current plans mean UK rail still running diesels in 2060. Scotland is targeting no diesels by 2035.
England’s Integrated Rail Plan will wire the Midland Line through Derby to Sheffield (what about the link to Leeds and Doncaster?) and the full Pennine route via Huddersfield – schemes originally planned before Northern Sparks task force reported! Now Bradford Interchange is in the plan. But where’s the ambition to extend to our full Calder Valley Line, advocated 7 years ago by the task force? And what’s happened to the NPR plan for a new through station at Bradford that would end the idiotic delay-multiplying need for trains to reverse? In central Scotland routes comparable with the Calder Valley are already wired!
Siemens quote figures for CO2 emissions. 27% are from transport. Of which 90% are from road transport. And passenger trains average emissions of one third those form an average car.
But road transport is already noticeably decarbonising. How many electric cars have you seen this week?
Rail must keep up.
Of course the electricity must be from zero-carbon sources. This is even more true of hydrogen power which will always be much less efficient because more energy conversions are involved. And not all hydrogen is genuinely zero-carbon. So called “blue” hydrogen is made from fossil fuels. “Green” hydrogen is made using water and renewably generated electricity