Rail electrification plans scrapped

Metro Mayor Dan Norris has announced plans to electrify local rail lines starting with the tracks from Bristol Temple Meads from the north via Bristol Parkway and Filton Bank.

The carbon-cutting and reliability-boosting scheme was first announced by the Labour Government in 2009 but then scrapped by the Tories in 2016.

As part of the Mayor’s new plan, a detailed study will take place, aimed to reduce the unit cost of electrification. In 2016, it was around £3.5m per single track km and the aim is to try to slash that to £1.5m.

Just 38% of the UK’s rail network is electrified compared to 60% on average in the EU.

Mayor Norris emphasised the potential benefits of his renewed effort, saying: “It’s the right thing to do for people and the planet. I was proud to vote for electrification under the last Labour Government, and today, we’re finally heading in the right direction again.

“If we’d stuck to the original plans, our local lines would have been electrified by 2017. Now, in the context of a serious climate emergency, it’s even more important.”

Typically an electric train emits between 20-35% less carbon per passenger mile than a diesel train.

Mayor Norris said: “One option that is on the table is to use some of the £100 million earmarked for regional transport on actually delivering this at pace. I would very much urge colleagues to support this.”

The first phase of work will look at Bristol Temple Meads from the north via Bristol Parkway and Filton Bank, and then the Mayor plans to move on to the Chippenham to Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads section.