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A Green Journey to Growth

Hazelnut -- front cover imageTransform Scotland has published new research looking into the carbon benefits of Anglo-Scottish rail.

‘A Green Journey to Growth’ looks at the carbon savings achieved in recent years by shifting travel from air to rail between Central Scotland and London, and highlights the additional emissions that would be saved should rail continue its progress towards a 50% share of the travel market.

In recent years, Anglo-Scottish rail has enjoyed significant growth, increasing its market share of journeys between Central Scotland and London from 20% to 33% in 2015. This major shift from air to rail has saved nearly 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, as reported in The Herald.

The report highlights a number of key findings, including:

  • There has been a major shift from air to rail between Central Scotland and London, rising from a 20% to 33% market share for rail between 2005 and 2015 (EDI-LDN from 24% to 34%, GLA-LDN from 15% to 32%)
  • Rail’s success has prevented an increase in carbon emissions in Anglo-Scottish travel (681,064 tonnes of carbon saved). This saving is the equivalent of removing all traffic on the M8 travelling between the outskirts of Glasgow and Edinburgh for two years.
  • The very strong growth on the Glasgow-London route has led to savings of over 330,000 tonnes of carbon — enough to take 145,000 cars off the road for a year.
  • If the Edinburgh-London route was to continue its growth in market share from 33% to 50% by 2023 there will be a 5% drop in overall emissions by 2023, even with continued passenger growth in the overall market (i.e. rail and air).
  • Further emissions savings are expected with the introduction of the new ‘Azuma’ trains on the East Coast route. We estimate that while a flight from Edinburgh to London emits 177kg CO2 per passenger, and existing trains (‘HSTs’) emit 34kg per passenger, that an Azuma will emit only 28kg — 84% less than a flight.
  • The report calculates the significant savings that individuals, SMEs and large businesses can play in reducing their carbon footprint by switching from air to rail.

The report highlights the significant benefits that rail has to offer for reducing carbon emissions from transport, now the biggest source of emissions in Scotland. With faster, greener Azuma trains being introduced for journeys between Edinburgh/Glasgow to London from 2018, Anglo-Scottish rail is set to go from strength to strength in the coming years.

However, to ensure the continued success of the Scotland-England rail market, a number of actions need to be taken by the UK and Scottish Governments. The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

  1. Policies should be adopted to encourage the continued strong modal shift from air to rail travel between Central Scotland and London.
  2. Reducing CO2 should be a clear policy objective embedded in decision-making with parity to other quality indexes.
  3. Investment should be made in both East Coast and West Coast mainlines to deliver faster journey times and service improvements ahead of HS2, as part of the policy to reduce CO2.
  4. HS2 should similarly be developed so as to deliver further strong modal shift from air to rail on Anglo-Scottish routes.
  5. UK and Scottish governments should take a leadership role by encouraging departments which have a lot of travel between Scotland and England to set modal shift targets.
  6. The tax system should be used to encourage modal shift from air to rail, rather than incentivising air travel by reducing Air Departure Tax rates on domestic routes.
  7. Investment decisions affecting different modes such as road, rail and air should be made holistically so that the potential for modal shift can be planned and accommodated rather than viewing projects in isolation.
  8. This whole corridor approach should be deployed not just on Anglo-Scottish travel but also on other city pairings within Scotland. This is particularly important in the context of reviewing Scotland’s National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Project Review.

To read the report, see here.