“I got chills
And I'm losin' control
'Cause the power
Who can forget those lyrics from “Grease”, the smash hit musical from 1978?
Some of the older members of the Raildiary team were reminded of them this week with news that MPs want to expand rail electrification.
In 1978, the year of Summer Loving, rail rolling stock was dominated by diesel power. There were of course electric trains and they have a history dating back to Brighton in 1883, but fast forward to 2021 and just 42% of the rail network is powered by electricity.
Surprising don’t you think?
Last year, Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation signed an agreement to accelerate its adoption and you can read more about that here in Air Quality News.
The rail industry is, arguably, behind the curve of the automotive industry.
If you were watching “Grease’ in your local Gaumont, Odeon or ABC in the late 70s, the only EV you’d probably see would be the electric milk floats.
How times change.
Tesla made EVs mainstream (if prohibitively expensive) with companies like Toyota, Nissan, Volvo and the Volkswagen Audi Group all adopting battery or hybrid technology.
Now plans are afoot in the rail industry to emulate the road network in its quest for zero net carbon emissions by 2050.
The good news is that the rail network is not a big factor in greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, which perhaps explains why only 42% of the network runs on electricity.
The House of Commons Transport Committee is looking to disrupt this inertia, with Huw Merriman stating:
‘Decarbonising rail, and making our trains cleaner and greener, will be a considerable challenge for us all … It will be some time before battery and hydrogen-powered trains are ready to depart the station, leaving electrification as the main option. Electrification has a patchy record of delivery. It’s time to invest in a rolling programme which will speed up delivery, drive down costs and hold to account those who do not deliver to time or budget.”
At Raildiary, we will watch this with interest.
With time, budget and accountability being watchwords for the programme, our rail construction software will be the perfect partner for electric trains.
It’s the one that you want.