Local MP for Ashfield Lee Anderson has shown his support for rail decarbonisation by visiting his constituency business, rail electrification specialists Van Elle.
Anderson met with representatives from Van Elle, learnt about their existing electrification projects and discussed the challenges for the future of decarbonisation and rail. He was then taken on a tour of Van Elle’s site, including taking part in an on-site demonstration and meeting workers and apprentices from the company.
Rail is already a low carbon mode of transport, contributing just 1.4% of transport emissions despite carrying 10% of all journeys. It accounts for only 0.5% of all UK emissions. However, to achieve the UK Government’s legal commitment to Net Zero by 2050 and its aim to take all diesel-only trains off the rail network by 2040, further action will be needed. Network Rail has set out that 15,400 kilometres of currently unelectrified railway lines will require decarbonising, which will include electrifying some 13,000 lines in the next 29 years.
Visiting electrification specialists Van Elle on 13 August, Anderson was able to see how achieving rail decarbonisation will not only be good for the environment but could also support jobs and investment in the East Midlands and around the UK.
Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, said: “It was fantastic to visit Van Elle today, a company that can lead the charge in decarbonising our rail network. Whilst rail is a small contributor to carbon emissions, it will nevertheless be essential in supporting a Net Zero economy.
“Businesses like Van Elle show that decarbonising rail – and electrifying railway lines – can support jobs and investment, helping provide new opportunities for people in Ashfield and beyond.
“It has been a great opportunity to find out more about the work Van Elle do – so I’d like to thank the team here, and the Railway Industry Association for supporting the visit as part of their Rail Fellowship Programme.”
David Buckley, Rail Director at Van Elle said: “Today was such an important opportunity for us to showcase our capabilities to support the decarbonisation of the UK’s railways as the network commits to a greener future for all.
“Having Lee Anderson MP join us to not only hear about how we are able to support electrification programmes across the UK, but also see our Kirkby test track in use and learn more about our specialist equipment, was a real pleasure.
“Our thanks to Lee and our colleagues at RIA for joining us.”
David Clarke, Technical Director at the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “As our Rail Decarbonisation 21 campaign highlights, electrification is crucial for the UK to reach net zero and will help support green jobs in all corners of the country.
“We were delighted to welcome Lee Anderson MP on site to meet Van Elle and learn about how electrification can be delivered cost-effectively and on schedule. This will be key to delivering the rolling programme the Government committed to in its recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan. We thank Lee for his support.”
The visit was part of the Railway Industry Association’s Rail Fellowship Programme, which encourages MPs to gain hands-on experience of the rail sector, with site visits taking place in their local area. Lee Anderson is the sixth MP to take part since the programme begin hosting physical visits again after the 2021 Covid-19 lockdown.
RIA have long been vocal in campaigning on electrification, with their RailDecarb21 campaign launched this year calling for the Government to begin a rolling programme of electrification.
Featured photo: From left to right – David Buckley (Rail Director, Van Elle), Lee Anderson MP for Ashfield, Jonathan Andrew (On behalf of RIA), Elaine Clarke (Rail Forum Midlands)