Lee Anderson MP: Rail Decarbonisation can support businesses like electrification foundations provider Van Elle in Ashfield


Lee Anderson MP on one of Van Elle's vehicles

16 August 2021

  • Ashfield MP Lee Anderson has called for the decarbonisation of the UK rail network on a visit to constituency-based electrification foundations provider Van Elle;
  • Van Elle are the UK’s leading ground engineering and geotechnical contractor, and work on vital electrification projects
  • Government’s recent Transport Decarbonisation plan promises an ambitious and sustainable programme of rail electrification, which can support businesses across the country. Rail electrification is vital to reaching net zero emissions from transport by 2050.
  • Lee Anderson MP given an on-site tour and demonstration, meeting the workers delivering electrification schemes 
  • Visit is part of the RIA Railway Fellowship Programme, bringing MPs and Parliamentarians onto railway sites across the UK

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 to 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 fifth 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 RailDearb21 campaign launched this year calling for the Government to begin a rolling programme of electrification. 

Notes to Editors


  1. Safety remains RIA’s top priority and all visits will continue to follow strict Covid-safe guidelines. Social distancing will be enforced, and visitors must wear appropriate PPE.
  2. About RIA:  Rail is vital for UK plc. The sector contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue to the UK every year, as well as employing 600,000 people – more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK. The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is a crucial way for MPs and Parliamentarians to show support for the sector and deepen their understanding. Over the past three years a large number of prominent cross-party politicians have taken part, including Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Home Secretary Priti Patel MP, former Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP and Florence Eshalomi MP, in her previous role as Labour’s transport spokesperson at City Hall and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee. 
  3. About Van Elle: Van Elle is the UK’s largest specialist geotechnical engineering contractor. The Company provides a range of ground engineering techniques and services including - ground investigation, general and specialist piling, rail geotechnical engineering, modular foundations, and ground improvement and stabilisation services. Van Elle operates through three divisions: general piling, specialist piling and rail; and is focused on three end markets; residential, infrastructure and regional construction - across which the Group has completed more than 20,000 projects over the last 35 years.  General piling provides a range of larger piling and ground engineering solutions for open-site construction projects. Specialist piling provides a range of geotechnical solutions in operationally constrained environments. Rail provides a suite of comprehensive lineside piling and ground engineering solutions using the UKs largest fleet of piling Road Rail Vehicles (RRVs). Rail also offers a range of ground investigation and geotechnical services through the GI specialist Strata and helical piles from Screwfast3. Van Elle has a market-leading reputation and the UK’s largest modern rig fleet of 118 rigs. Having floated on AIM in 2016 it now has a strong national presence, diversified offering and market-leading brand name.


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