Scotland’s Railway helps fight climate change

Last updated:
Friday, 5 February 2021

ScotRail is already going the extra mile to keep safe, people, like key workers, who use the railway for essential travel.

But, the train operator is also helping make Scotland’s Railway healthier in general by fighting climate change as we look forward to November’s COP26 event in Glasgow.

ScotRail has reduced its carbon footprint by an estimated 46,000 tonnes over the last two years and, from December 2020 to May 2021, the train operator estimates there will a further cut of almost 10,000 tonnes. That’s the equivalent of the total emissions produced by 2,200 passenger vehicles in a year or the CO2 from more than 1,500 Scots over a 12 month period.

Scotland’s Railway is a rapidly evolving success story, with more than 76 per cent of passenger and 45 per cent of freight journeys already electrified. Rail is already the most sustainable mode of public transport, contributing only 1 per cent of Scotland’s overall transport carbon emissions.

All diesel trains will be taken out of service over the next 15 years through the decarbonisation of the rail infrastructure. There are projects currently underway to do this on lines around Glasgow such as East Kilbride, Barrhead and Maryhill, creating more sustainable journeys and stations.

ScotRail is also shortly introducing innovations such as the use of a fuel additive that will deliver a three per cent reduction in fleet diesel usage with further associated savings in carbon and nitrous oxides.

The train operator continues to invest in energy efficient technologies and plans to deliver Scotland’s first net zero carbon station 2021.

Rail travel in Scotland is more popular than ever before and, pre-pandemic, supported more than 2,500 passenger services a day. More than 107 million journeys were made last year.

Between 2014 and 2019 Scotland’s Railway electrified 325km of the country’s central railway network. This investment supported the introduction of a new £370m fleet of 70 faster, greener, modern electric trains, with more capacity for customers.

The train operator’s Decarbonisation Action Plan aims to eliminate carbon emissions completely by 2035.

Damian Keaveny, ScotRail Head of Environment, said:

“In recent years a huge amount of progress has been made in a short timeframe, making the transition from road to rail easier as every milestone is reached.

“We have identified electrification and the transition from diesel to alternative traction such as hydrogen and battery trains as the key to achieving zero CO2 emissions on Scotland’s Railway by 2035 and we are pushing ahead with big investment into making that a reality.

“Rail is already the most sustainable mode of public transport, contributing only 1 per cent of Scotland’s overall transport carbon emissions, but, there’s no doubt a cleaner and greener network is something we should all be working towards.”