Submission to the Low Carbon Fuels Strategy Call for Ideas

4 May 2022

RIA has submitted a response to the Department for Transport's Low Carbon Fuel Strategy: Call for Ideas. 

Executive Summary

  1. Rail is an inherently energy efficient mode of surface transport due to its very low rolling resistance and greenhouse gas emissions from rail transport are small compared to other modes.  However, it is still vitally important that rail decarbonises at pace to ensure it remains an attractive and environmentally advantageous mode of transport for the future. 
  2. RIA supports the industry’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy (TDNS) and the DfT’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP).  
  3. The LCF strategy needs to recognise that the GB railway is not unique in its amount of electrification and there are railways around the world, e.g., North America where the electrification rate is far lower than in the UK.  Decarbonisation of rail is therefore a shared challenge, but unlike aviation and road transport the challenge is not necessarily a global one.  
  4. The rail industry is rarely a technology leader – due to the comparatively low numbers of trains manufactured, rail engines are typically derived from genset and marine applications – therefore rail inherits the capabilities of these engines rather than driving their specification.
  5. Therefore, for rail to make use of LCFs in combustion engines the availability and technology readiness of suitable engines needs to be properly considered. However, this opens up the scope for collaboration and aggregating demand across sectors. 
  6. The use of multi-mode trains which can make use of electrification where this exists and switch over to onboard energy storage for running off wires is seen by the industry as a possible transitional technology until more of the GB network is electrified.
  7. The choice of traction energy source for off-wire running is therefore important and whilst there is a clear industry preference for batteries and hydrogen to fulfil this role for passenger trains there is sustained interest in the use of LCFs too. 

The Submission

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