“Our report shows that rail’s success in capturing market share from air has prevented an increased in carbon emissions across the entire Scotland-London travel market.”
The 13 percent increase of rail journeys between London and central Scotland in the past decade has cut more than 680,000 tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. That’s the headline message from a report published by a Scottish organisation campaigning for more sustainable travel across all transport modes, consisting of members that include Abellio, Virgin East Coast, ScotRail, Stagecoach Group, Edinburgh Trams and WWF.
The Transform Scotland report revealed that improvements made in the last ten years to Anglo-Scottish rail links had led to 33 percent of all journeys being made by train, predicting a situation where that will rise to 50 percent by 2023. The number of people using rail rather than air to travel between England’s capital and Scotland’s central belt has broadly doubled in 20 years.
To illustrate the comparative environmental benefits of rail, Transform Scotland said making the journey between London and central Scotland by train is five times more environmentally-friendly than flying: 49 journeys produce the same level of emissions as nine flights.
Rail market share rose from 24-34 percent for journeys between London and Edinburgh over the last ten years, while an increase of 20-33 percent was felt over the same period*.
Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said: “Our report shows that rail’s success in capturing market share from air has prevented an increased in carbon emissions across the entire Scotland-London travel market.”
The improvements to rail infrastructure that the report mentions point mainly to the West Coast Main Line (WCML) that in 2008 benefitted from a £9bn investment that introduced new trains and a new timetable, paving the paved for more frequent, faster journeys. The steps taken to improve the WCML, which connects the 400 miles distance between London with Glasgow, saw a journey time of three hours and fifty-five minutes now possible when made by Virgin’s Pendolino train.
Virgin Trains and Virgin Trains East Coast have committed to continuing to increase Anglo-Scottish journeys by rail and said if the rise continues at the same rate as the last ten years (two percent a year) then it would prevent 586,942 more tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. The 681,064 tonnes saved in the last decade are more than all the total emissions from air and rail in 2015 combined.
Providing a window into how the 50 percent target could be reached, Transform Scotland dedicated a section of its latest report to Virgin Trains East Coast's upcoming Azuma trains (built by Hitachi Rail Europe) for London to Edinburgh. Part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Intercity Express programme, the trains will enter service in 2018 and will produce less carbon emissions than existing diesel-electric hybrids and 84 percent less than a single flight between the two cities.
Speaking on the report, David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains East Coast, said the figures show an encouraging start that confirm an historic shift in travel patterns towards train.
* Transform Scotland has calculated the carbon savings outlined in the report by considering a hypothetical situation in which the same level of growth had occurred without any change in air/rail market share.
You may also be interested in...