Rail industry: Electrification can be delivered at 33-50% lower cost

14 March 2019


A new report launched today by the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the national trade body for the UK’s rail supply community, has found that electrification can be delivered significantly more cost effectively than some previous upgrade projects, at between a third and half less.
 
RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge report uses examples from both the UK and internationally to show the cost of rail electrification has already reduced, and that with a rolling programme of work could be brought down even further. The report calls for Government to collaborate with the rail industry and renew its commitment to electrification, following the cancellation of a number of schemes in July 2017.
 
David Clarke, Technical Director at the Railway Industry Association, said: “The Railway Industry Association’s Electrification Cost Challenge shows how rail electrification can be delivered at 33-50% of the cost of some past projects if the Government commits to a rolling programme of work.
 
“Electrification is clearly the optimal solution for intensively used railway lines, and should be seen as the priority choice in a hierarchy of options if the Government is serious about decarbonising the rail network by 2040. A rolling programme of electrification would allow rail businesses to build up and retain expertise, further reducing the cost of future schemes.
 
“The lessons from previous projects, including the Great Western Electrification Programme, are clear but we should stop using these projects as a benchmark for the cost of future schemes. Instead, we urge Government to work closely with RIA and rail businesses – as requested by the Transport Select Committee and agreed to by Government last September – to revise its policy on electrification where it is the right long-term solution. Only by doing so will we be able to decarbonise the rail network by 2040, and deliver a cleaner and more cost-effective railway network.”
 
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, has welcomed the report: “The most recently completed schemes demonstrate that we’ve made good progress in reducing the cost of electrification.  This report takes the debate forward, brings insight to the challenges and solutions for successful delivery and illustrates that we can sustain a hard-earned level of industry capability through efficient investment in electrification.”
 
Stephen Blakey, Commercial Projects Director at Network Rail, added: “Network Rail and RIA collaborated successfully on this report with both parties keen to ensure a balance, analysis and insight appropriate to such an important issue. Our industry needs to improve its ability to illustrate what rail investment should cost, will cost, did cost and why and this report helps do just that.”

Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: "I welcome the report and am pleased to see its strong support for a 10-year programme of rolling electrification to achieve long-term cost reductions for the railway."

Mark Gaynor, Interim Director of Planning , Engineering and Operations at the Rail Delivery Group said: “Electrification means faster and more reliable journeys for customers, and it benefits our communities by cutting noise and air pollution. 

“As we work to improve the railway today and for the future, this report is valuable in underlining these benefits and highlighting that electrifying our network does not need to break the bank.” 

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The scale and pace of rail electrification must increase if we are to tackle air pollution, meet our legally binding climate change targets and reverse the long term underinvestment in transport infrastructure outside of London and the South East. We're calling on the Government to commit to a rolling programme of electrification to invigorate our railways, bringing them into the 21st Century in a way that is affordable."

The Campaign to Electrify Britain's Railways said: “We welcome RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge Report, we believe that this proves that electrification can be delivered sustainability and cost-effectively.

"On mainline or busy railways, electrification is the only effective solution to power trains. A rolling programme is the most cost-efficient way of delivering this.

"We call on the Government, DfT and Network Rail to rise to this challenge and deliver investment in rail electrification."

Read the Report

Notes to Editors

  1. The Electrification Cost Challenge report responds to a recommendation of an inquiry in 2018 by the Transport Select Committee into Rail Infrastructure Investment – see pages 2-3, point 3, of https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtrans/1557/1557.pdf; and the Government’s response, “ We will continue to engage with the industry and RIA on initiatives that could reduce the cost of enhancing the railway and improve the outcomes for its users. We will work with RIA to produce a report as recommended and will revert to the Committee on the most appropriate timetable to deliver a meaningful report.”
  2. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. We promote and represent our members’ interests to policy makers, clients and other stakeholders in the UK and overseas. RIA has 260+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry

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