251km of electrified track added to UK railways in last year

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has revealed that 251km of electrified track was added to the UK’s rail network during the past 12 months. That means that 38% of the entire UK rail network is now electrified, representing more than 6,000km of track. Four new mainline stations (Meridian Water, Robroyston, Warrington West, Worcestershire Parkway) also opened in 2019-20, bringing the total number to 2,567 stations. The ORR’s annual statistical breakdown on rail infrastructure and emissions, also reveals a decline in CO2 emissions for passenger services. However, emissions related to freight have increased to the highest level since the ORR started recording such data in 2011. For passenger trains, electricity usage increased by 5.3% and diesel usage increased by 1.5% compared to 2018-19. Over the same time period, passenger kilometres decreased by 1.3%. The resulting CO2e emissions for passenger trains have fallen to 35.1g CO2e per passenger km. This is the lowest level since the comparable time series started in 2011-12. However, the amount of diesel consumed by freight trains in 2019-20 has increased by 12.5% to 172M litres. This is the highest figure since 2015-16, and the first time that diesel use increased year on year since 2015-16. Electricity usage fell by 6.3% to 70M kWh. The resulting CO2e emissions for freight trains have increased to 27.5g CO2e per tonne km. This is the highest level since the comparable time series started in 2011-12. The report adds: “Despite the increase in electricity and diesel usage, the resulting CO2e emissions and emissions per passenger km have fallen. “This is predominantly due to a transition towards renewable energy sources in the electricity sector in Great Britain. Passenger kilometres were increasing steadily from 57.1 billion in 2011-12 to 67.6 billion in 2018-19. The first three quarters of 2019-20 recorded an increase in passenger kilometres. “However, there was a large fall passenger kilometres in Q4 (January - March), which can be attributed almost entirely to the measures taken in March 2020 to limit the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Passenger rail usage during the first quarter of 2020-21 was severely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is expected to have a large impact on emissions for 2020-21.” Like what you've read? To receive New Civil Engineer's daily and weekly newsletters click here.