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Railways: Exhaust Emissions

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 6 January 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will estimate the likely reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which would result from the (a) electrification of railway lines and (b) the construction of tram lines by 2020. (308980)

Rail currently emits about 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide directly from diesel consumption and is indirectly responsible for about 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide produced by the electricity generating sector. Electrifying the rail network by 2020 would remove carbon emissions associated with diesel consumption but increase emissions from power stations. The net effect would be a reduction in 2020 in rail related emissions of about 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The impact of new light rail schemes on carbon dioxide emissions will vary by the size and location of the system and how effective it is in encouraging people to switch from other modes particularly car. A reduction in carbon emissions as a result of a new light rail scheme is possible providing sufficient passengers are attracted from other modes. Light rail extensions in Manchester and Nottingham are under construction or being considered for funding by the Department for Transport. Forecasts from the scheme promoters suggest that in total these extensions will save around 3,000 tonnes of carbon per annum.