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UK to “phase out” diesel locomotives by 2040
UK’s new Minister of State for Transport, Jo Johnson, made a speech on a Greener Railway, proposing to “phase out” all British diesel locomotives by 2040. “I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040. If that seems like an ambitious goal—it should be and I make no apology for that. After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040,” said Minister Johnson.
The task is indeed ambitious, as diesel accounts for about a third of all Britain’s trains. The only viable alternative to diesel could be electrification. This, however, appears not to be the case. The Guardian has pointed out that Johnson’s ministerial predecessor postponed or abandoned UK Network Rail’s electrification plan—including the Welsh and Midlands mainlines.
“Total electrification of our tracks is unlikely to be the only or most cost-effective way to secure these vital environmental benefits,” said Jo Johnson. Instead, battery powered and hydrogen (sic!) locomotives are under consideration.
This is how Minister Johnson described his bold vision: “… as battery technologies improve we expect to see the diesel engines in bi-modes replaced altogether, with batteries powering the train between the electrified sections of the network. Or maybe in the future we could see those batteries and diesel engines replaced with hydrogen units? Alternative-fuel trains powered entirely by hydrogen are a prize on the horizon. I’d like to see hydrogen train trials on the UK railway as soon as possible. Hydrogen offers an affordable—and potentially much cleaner—alternative to diesel.”
Man darf gespannt sein.