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Railway Electrification


A rolling programme

As far back as 1979, British Rail had a plan to cope with the oil crisis by developing a network electrification plan. It envisaged five teams stringing up 250 route-miles of overhead line equipment every year. The railways and Britain would have been in a much better position if the scheme had gone ahead. A large number of electrification projects have recently been approved by the Government for CP5. Railfuture are campaigning for funding to be made available to create a rolling programme of electrification to be continued into CP6 so that the electrification teams and equipment do not have to be run down as projects complete towards the end of CP5, in 2019.

Lower costs

Electric trains are cheaper to operate than diesel - the purchase costs are lower, they are more energy-efficient, and they cost less to maintain. Investment in electrification is essential to provide additional capacity to accommodate rail travel growth without increasing the need for government subsidy.

Service improvements

Railfuture believes further electrification of main lines and urban networks throughout the UK will bring major improvements to services and the passenger environment. The 'sparks effect' of the improved service attracts more passengers to rail. Some minor lines should also be electrified to complete local and regional networks. The case for electrification is given in the Railfuture Electrification Paper (109KB) produced in January 2009, currently under revision.

Less pollution

Railfuture supports electrification. In comparison to diesel, electric trains provide a quieter, faster, more pleasant journey. They prevent pollution in towns and cities and are more reliable.

Electric rail for cities

Railfuture advocates a policy to develop electric urban networks with metro-style services to benefit all users and make a major contribution towards traffic reduction strategies.

The wider world

Even the Americans are waking up to the importance of conserving energy supplies by using electric traction for public transport. China is planning to expand its rail system from 43,000 to 62,000 miles. It will also electrify half that network.

When the oil runs short

For an American-based analysis of the situation see: lightrailnow
It includes a link which allows you to download a 90-page report by Robert Hirsch on the energy crisis commissioned by the US Department of Energy.

Projects waiting for approval

Click to see the lines that are prime candidates to be added to a rolling programme.


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