A step forward in improving the environmental impact of the rail network

Railway track with trees

We welcome the Department for Transport's (DfT's) publication of their Transport Decarbonisation Plan and Rail Environmental Statement. The publications set out their commitments to decreasing the environmental impact of the UK rail network, supporting our plans to improve sustainability of rail in the West Midlands.

Central to their commitments is an ambitious programme of rail network electrification guided by Network Rail's Traction Network Decarbonisation Strategy.

In the West Midlands our priorities for electrification are:

  • the Snow Hill line commuter network (Warwickshire - Solihull Birmingham Cradley Heath - Stourbridge - Worcester)
  • key inter-city routes from Birmingham to Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, Reading, Derby, Sheffield and London Marylebone
  • core freight routes from Southampton (via Reading) and Felixstowe (via Nuneaton) to West Midlands intermodal terminals

We also fully support the DfT's aim to have air quality improvement plans for every station. Busy city centre stations should be a priority, particularly Birmingham New Street, which is partly underground and located within Birmingham's Clean Air Zone.

While we welcome the commitment to building High Speed 2 (HS2) and other line and station schemes, this must be extended to the:

  • entirety of the Midlands Rail Hub project
  • doubling of capacity on the Coventry to Leamington line

Other key areas in the publication which support our plans for the West Midlands include:

  • battery and hydrogen train development and a reduction in diesel vehicle emissions
  • modernising fares ticketing and retail to encourage a shift to rail
  • improving how rail journey connect with walking, cycling and other modes of transport
  • setting targets for increasing rail freight
  • achieving a net zero carbon rail network by 2050