Details unveiled on decarbonising Scots rail services

The Scottish Government’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson on Tuesday unveiled details of the plans to decarbonise Scotland’s rail passenger services by 2035.

Matheson launched the initiative during a visit to ScotRail’s Shields Road electric fleet depot in Glasgow where he unveiled Transport Scotland’s Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan.

The plan seeks to achieve its aims through further electrification and, for some routes, through the use of battery electric-powered trains and to work with developers of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains to accelerate their development and deployment.

The plan also seeks to remove diesel passenger trains from Scottish services, and “secure significant benefits” for rail freight over the next 15-25 years.

Preparatory work for the first electrification projects, on the East Kilbride and Barrhead lines, is already underway, with Anniesland/Maryhill and Borders routes also making progress. 

Early work has also begun to assess how inter-city routes can be tackled to inform delivery programmes and funding decisions.      

Matheson said: “The current covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging and difficult time across the globe.  

“As we continue transition through the Scottish Government’s Routemap to Recovery it is clear we need to do all we can to boost the economy through green initiatives.

“While our Programme for Government commitment to publish our plans for decarbonising Scotland’s railways was rightly paused, I am now pleased we can share them. 

“This is particularly important for the rail industry and its supply chain who are keen to see projects progress.

“Building on our recent strong track record of delivering electrification projects we have set out ambitious but achievable plans to decarbonise our rail passenger services by 2035, five years ahead of the UK target.”

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “Delivering on the Scottish Government’s bold and ambitious Rail Decarbonisation Action Plan is a top priority for Scotland’s Railway.

“We’re continually working to deliver a cleaner, greener railway for Scotland. 

“Although rail is already a low-carbon mode of transport, we are committed to reducing our environmental impact ever further.

“The massive projects that have been delivered so far – the electrification of the Central Belt, new electric trains – mean more seats and faster journeys for our customers, as well as a rail service that is better for our environment.

“This plan will deliver even more for our passengers in the decades to come.

“It connects people with jobs, business with customers, tourists with destinations, and it’s delivering a railway of which we can be truly proud.” 

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.