gb Palace of Westminster from the river

UK: The House of Commons Transport Select Committee has restarted its Trains Fit for the Future inquiry, which is investigating what actions should be taken to reduce reliance on diesel-only trains and how electric, hydrogen and battery power can be deployed to achieve this.

The committee says current alternatives to overhead electrification such as hydrogen and battery do not have sufficient power to be deployed on heavy freight trains, and while bi-mode traction has the potential to reduce emissions, there is currently no overarching strategy for decarbonising this sector.

‘The transport sector is working on some really exciting innovations to help meet the UK’s net zero carbon commitment’, said Chair Huw Merriman MP on Ocotber 22. ’As we move away from diesel-only trains, we should look carefully at the alternatives. Hydrogen, battery, electrification — all present opportunities to re-evaluate our rail network with decarbonisation a prime consideration.’

The inquiry was first launched by the predecessor committee in April 2019, but plans to revive it early in this Parliament were delayed by the pandemic.

The Department for Transport’s Decarbonisation Plan, setting out how government, business and society will deliver emissions reduction across every mode of transport, was originally due to be published this Autumn. However, DfT Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly recently told the Public Accounts Committee that January 2021 was a more realistic timeframe.