RIA launches RailDecarb21 - calling on Government to decarbonise rail ahead of COP26

24 March 2021

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the UK rail supply community, has announced its new RailDecarb21 campaign today, calling on the Government to redouble its efforts to decarbonise the rail network, ahead of COP26 later this year. 

Launched in a speech by RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan at the EuroRail Hub Conference today, RailDecarb21 calls on the Government to begin a rolling programme of electrification and to start fleet orders of hydrogen and battery rolling stock in order to meet the UK’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ target and to show global leadership ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

The campaign comes on the back of a ‘Trains Fit For the Future’ report by Parliament’s Transport Committee, urging the Government to act swiftly in decarbonising the rail network.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Our rail network is already a low carbon form of transport, contributing only 1.4% to the UK’s domestic transport emssions and just 0.5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Yet we have clear targets from Government to meet – to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and to help the UK secure its commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

 “To do this, we need to begin now. With rail investment taking several years, and train fleets having an average life of 30 years, the choices we make this year will impact whether we reach our targets in the coming decades. Every tonne of carbon saved today equates to 29 tonnes of carbon saved by 2050 - with an apprentice recruited today having 29 years of work ahead of them - making it all the more important to begin quickly. 

“That is why we vitally need to begin a rolling programme of cost-effective electrification, which can be delivered at up to 50% less than the cost of certain past problem projects. And we also need to see orders of hydrogen and battery trains, which the industry is ready to deliver.

“Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this coming November, the UK Government has the opportunity to kick start the UK zero carbon economy – and rail can play a vital role. It can start by supporting electrification and low carbon train fleets, helping to deliver decarbonisation whilst also supporting the UK’s economic recovery from Coronavirus through the thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of GVA such UK rail investment brings.”

Visit the campaign page
Notes to Editors


  1. More information about the campaign can be found here
  2. RailDecarb21's launch comes after yesterday's report from Parliament's Transport Committee in which MPs called for a 30 year rolling programme of electrification and support for battery and hydrogen train development. The report can be found here and RIA's response welcoming its recommendations here. 
  3.  RIA's Electrification Cost Challenge report can be found here. The report shows how future electrification schemes can be delivered at up to 50% lower cost.
  4. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has some 300 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.

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