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Net Zero Strategy: Rail Electrification

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 17 March 2022

13. What assessment he has made of the potential role of rail electrification in the Government’s net zero strategy. (906121)

17. What assessment he has made of the (a) potential merits of and (b) UK capability for accelerating the decarbonisation of transport. (906130)

Our transport decarbonisation plan sets out how we will decarbonise the transport sector by 2050. Electrification will play an important role in decarbonising all modes. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton), the Rail Minister, has already said, over 1,221 track miles of electrification have been delivered in Great Britain since 2010, compared with 63 in the 14 years of the previous Administration, and we continue to expand the electrified rail network. For example, the integrated rail plan announcement confirmed that we will complete the electrification of the midland main line and deliver full electrification and upgrade of the trans-Pennine main line.

I thank the Minister for her answer. We are in negotiations with Midlands Connect and her Department about upgrades and new investments on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line, which is a very important line in the west midlands. Will she give me a commitment that she will look at that with a view to electrifying the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line as soon as possible?

I can certainly give that commitment. I know that my hon. Friend has met with the Rail Minister and will do so again. As he knows, Midlands Connect is developing a business case for journey time improvements on the line connecting Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton and Birmingham. This will assess the enhancements required, the timescales for delivery and the costs and benefits of the scheme.

Given the huge impact increasing transport costs are having on the cost of basic foodstuffs and day-to-day living expenses, does the Minister accept the Road Haulage Association’s estimate of an 18% increase in its members’ running costs? Is that another cost that will fall disproportionately on the poor? What action is the Department taking to ensure the poor are not expected to pay the price for a Government looking to escape the net zero tariff?

The decarbonisation of transport will bring benefits to our economy, our society and the environment. That is well and truly set out in our transport decarbonisation plan.