Memorandum submitted by the National Union
of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport
Workers (RMT) welcomes the opportunity to provide written evidence
to the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry: Reducing Carbon
Emissions from Transport.
The RMT organises over 72,000 members and negotiates
on their behalf with over 150 employers across all sectors of
the transport industry. With over 45,000 members employed on the
national rail network, the RMT is the largest of the rail unions.
Our long standing commitment to an environmentally sustainable
and fully integrated transport system is well documented.
Transport Statistics 2005 indicates that in
2003 carbon emissions, measured by source category, from domestic
transport represented 23% of all UK carbon emissions. In the same
year domestic transport was responsible for 27% of all UK carbon
emissions when measured by end user category (See tables).
Carbon dioxide emissions measured by source
|Mode of Transport||Million tonnes of carbon
|| % of all UK carbon emissions
|<lh0,27p0> Passenger cars
|Light duty vehicles|| 4.4
|Mopeds and Motorcycles|| 0.1
|Civil aircraft|| 0.6
|All domestic transport||34.4
Carbon dioxide emissions measured by end user category
|Mode of Transport||Million tonnes of carbon
|| % of all UK carbon emissions
|Civil aircraft|| 0.7
|All domestic transport||41.6
Self-evidently rail remains a less polluting form of transport
than cars, lorries and aircraft. Indeed, the 2004 Department for
Transport's National Atmospheric Inventory found that on a journey
between Edinburgh and London, car and air produced six and eight
times respectively the level of CO2 emissions than
that produced by rail.
In 2004 the Government set itself the target of reducing
greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2010. On
carbon emissions, the targets are even more challenging20%
and 60% reductions below the 1990 level by 2010 and 2050 respectively.
Whilst the 12.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is set
to be met, the Government is now less confident that the carbon
emissions targets set out in the 2004 PSA will now be delivered.
However, RMT remains unclear as to how PSA targets to reduce
carbon emissions are fully integrated into transport infrastructure
projects and plans. Such projects and plans would include;
The Government's high level output specification
for rail due for publication in 2007.
New road building plans.
The Eddington review into the UK's future
The ODPM's sustainable communities plan.
Airport runway expansion schemes.
We would trust that the current inquiry will go some way
in clarifying the issue.
In addition RMT's parliamentary group of MPs has secured
agreement from the DfT and DEFRA to participate, alongside the
TUC, in a seminar later this year on the "sustainable case
for rail". We believe that this will prove to be a forum
in which transport priorities can be identified, discussed and
integrated in the context of securing the PSA targets.
RMT remains unconvinced that Government is coherently co-ordinating
the necessary steps to reduce carbon emissions from transport
and would endorse the comments made by the Commission for Integrated
Transport in its submission to the February 2005 Transport and
Climate Change consultation;
"Overall there is a lack of understanding of how GHG
(Green House Gas) reduction has influenced the policy decision
on transport; the Government has set a range of commendable targets
to reduce green house gas emissions. However it has failed to
match its commitments with tough policies to achieve these goals
from the transport sector. Transport policy initiatives need to
be supported by clear targets and justification for these. The
Department for Transport must set out exactly what action it will
take to put the transport sector back on track. If the target
to reduce emissions by 60% by 2050 is in sight, then severe cuts
in emissions from transport will be required. This in turn will
require more than short term thinking and focus on technological
RMT is firmly of the view that in order to meet the aspirations
set out in the PSA to substantially reduce carbon emissions by
2010 and 2050, Government has to bring forward a robust and integrated
package of policies which seeks to encourage modal shift from
the private car to other more environmentally friendly forms of
We would highlight the conclusions reached of the recent
University College London Bartlett School of Planning and Halcrow
Group report Looking over the Horizon: Visioning and Backcasting
for UK Transport Policy indicates that transport carbon emissions
are set to be 53MtC in 2030, with road transport being responsible
for 49MtC of the overall emissions.
The report explains that the way in which people travel needs
radical change and that technological advances including hybrid
cars and green fuels are far less effective in reaching Government
carbon emission targets than lifestyle changes including modal
shift from private to public forms of transport.
Government is taking some positive steps to reduce carbon
emissions from transport. RMT welcomes including the introduction
of the Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation (RFTO) which requires
5% of all UK solid fuels to come from a renewable source by 2010.
Nevertheless even when this target is delivered the UK will still
lag far behind countries such as Brazil where biofuel use is extensive.
However, RMT would re-iterate that the RTFO and the increased
fuel efficiency of private cars will prove to be insufficient
in encouraging the scale of modal shift required to deliver sustained
reductions in carbon emissions from transport.
RMT further welcomes the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF)
which by 2014-15 will have an annual budget of £2.5 billion,
providing funds for local and regional authorities to introduce
congestion charging schemes. In the recently produced TIF guidance
the Department for Transport acknowledges that a number of demand
management schemes exist including parking measures. They conclude
that "we are therefore most likely to fund packages involving
road pricing, although we may, by exception, consider bids involving
a Workplace Parking Levy".
The Government also appears committed to introducing national
road-user charging as a means to reduce congestion and tackle
greenhouse gas emissions. A written parliamentary answer of 7
February 2006 indicates that the scale of the reduction in congestion
that the Government believes will result from both national and
local road pricing schemes.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State
for Transport (1) what assessment his Department has made of the
effect on congestion of (a) a national road pricing scheme and
(b) road pricing schemes in local authority areas; 
(2) what assessment his Department has made of the
likely effect of (a) a national road pricing scheme and (b) road
pricing schemes in local authority areas on car use; 
(3) whether his Department has made an estimate of
how much travel on (a) rural roads, (b) urban roads and (c) motorways
would cost per mile under a national road pricing scheme. 
Dr. Ladyman: "The Feasibility Study of Road
Pricing in the UK", published by the Department for Transport
in July 2004, showed that road pricing could potentially reduce
congestion by some 40 per cent. with benefits of up to £12
billion a year in time savings and increased reliability. The
study modelled a wide range of theoretical schemes and charges
including variants of national road pricing and of charging in
local authority areas. A copy of the study report was placed in
the Library, and is also available on the Department's website.
If Government projections are borne out then the implications
for the rail industry will be extremely profound. In 2004, cars,
vans and taxis accounted for 85% of passenger transport journeys,
with rail (including the London Underground and light rail systems)
accounting for 6% of all journeys. The national rail network currently
carries over one billion passengers a yearmore than at
any time since the 1950s. Overcrowding is already a feature of
many parts of the network and there are a number of engineering
pinch-points which act as a barrier to increasing capacity.
If the demand management schemes are successful and result
in a modal shift of as little as 6% then rail's modal share would
increase by 100%. This would leave the existing network unable
to cope. It would be wholly inadequate for Government to wait
until revenue raised by local, regional or national demand management
schemes became available to fund capacity enhancements on the
rail network. RMT is of the view that the Department for Transport
should bring forward, as soon as is practicable, robust, well-financed
plans to increase capacity in order that the extra demand which
will result from the introduction of road user charging schemes
can be successfully met. A failure to do so will simply result
in road users paying the congestion charge and remaining in their
cars, because the rail network had been insufficiently enhanced
to provide an attractive alternative. Such a development would
contribute very little to Government aspirations to reduce carbon
High Speed Rail link
It is a matter of serious concern to the RMT that Britain
remains one of the last Western European countries to develop
high speed rail routes. Rather than develop high-speed routes
as has become the norm in mainland Europe, successive Government's
have overseen an explosion in cheap domestic flights.
In December 2005, the Institute of Civil Engineers published
The Missing LinkA report on high speed rail links in
the UK that outlines the case for a new high speed rail link
between London and Scotland. The Institute argues that journey
times to Manchester could be cut to 90 minutes, with even greater
benefits on longer distances to Newcastle and Glasgow. The new
trains would have a speed of just over 155 mph (250kh) if they
run on new tracks. Capacity could be greatly enhanced by the provision
of a high speed line. 220 new trains per day could be provided,
compared to a potential 98 additional trains per day following
the West Coast Main Line modernisation project. The new line would
attract new users onto rail, ease congestion, free up space for
rail freight and most importantly in terms of reducing carbon
emissions, provide an attractive alternative to short-haul domestic
Where a dedicated high speed link, namely Eurostar, has been
brought forward, rail now accounts for 71% of the market share
between London and Paris. The advantages of rail over air are
self-evident: faster check in times and city-centre to city-centre
journeys provided by an environmentally sustainable service. Notwithstanding
the cost explosion on the West Coast Mainline upgrade programme,
the introduction of the Pendolino fleet, on the WCML and the reduction
of the journey time between London and Manchester to two hours
has strengthened rail's market share between the two cities bringing
with it obvious environmental benefits.
As part of our commitment to environmentally sustainable
forms of transport RMT is, together with our sister rail unions,
Network Rail, the freight operating companies and Transport 2000,
a member of the Freight on Rail (FoR) partnership. Material produced
by Freight on Rail indicates that tonne per tonne carried rail
freight produces 90% less carbon dioxide than road transport.
An average freight train can remove 50 HGVs and an average aggregates
freight train up to 120 HGVS from our roads.
In terms of the package of greenhouse gas emissions rail
freight compares extremely favourably with Heavy Goods Vehicles
||Nitrogen oxides||Carbon dioxide
||Volatile organic compounds
Self-evidently then rail freight represents an environmentally
cleaner form of transport than HGVs. RMT is therefore disappointed
that the Westminster Government decided in 2003 not to award any
future Freight Facilities Grants (FFGs) in England. The Scottish
Parliament and Welsh Assembly have not followed suit. Indeed,
in January 2006 the Scottish Executive awarded £5.2 million
to JST Services (Rail) in order that the company could construct
a new rail head in Ayrshire thus enabling them to transport timber
by rail rather than by road. Also in January the Executive awarded
WH Malcolm £600,000 to transport plasterboard by rail from
Cumbria to a new FFG facility in Paisley. Both grants should see
1.5 million lorry miles taken off the roads. RMT would urge that
the DfT re-visits its decision to freeze FFGs in England.
Steps to encourage the reduction of carbon emissions from
transport should include making public transport an accessible
and affordable alternative to the private car. However, it is
widely accepted that the public is faced with rail fares that
are too high and an overly complex ticketing structure. Independent
research commissioned by the RMT in spring 2005 found that single
standard tickets are up to three times more expensive in the UK
than those in mainland Europe.
Regrettably January 2006 saw above inflation increases in
regulated and unregulated fares with unregulated fares increasing
by an average of 8.8% on GNER and WAGN services. The future of
saver tickets now also appears to be in some doubt. RMT is concerned
that the train operators are seeking to price passengers off the
rail network by increasing fares in a similar fashion to that
employed all to often by the British Railways Board in the 1970s.
Such a course is seriously mistaken. Fares policy and ticketing
structures should be developed in order to encourage modal shift,
thereby reducing carbon emissions. We are firmly of the view that
Government should conduct a review of fares policy with the overarching
aim of bringing forward proposals to encourage modal shift from
road to rail.
In addition to reasonable priced and readily understood fare
and ticketing structures the public should be assured that their
journey by rail, and other forms of public transport, will be
safe and secure. Unfortunately many of our rail stations are not
at all welcoming environments, particularly outside of the peak
period. Around 47% of Britain's stations are currently unstaffed,
many others are not staffed from the beginning to the end of traffic.
The Department for Transport produced research in 2002 which found
that safer stations could increase rail use by 11%. In addition
a recent study produced by the RMT demonstrated that the £200
million a year saved by bringing passenger services into public
ownership would provide enough money to fund 1,600 extra staff
and double the stations improvements budget from £150 million
per annum to £300 million. Increased patronage of the rail
network facilitated by improvements to station infrastructure
and environment would make a useful contribution in reducing carbon
emissions from transport.
RMT welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Environmental
Audit Committee's investigation into reducing carbon emissions
from transport. Effective co-ordinated action is required if Government
is to meet targets to reduce carbon emissions in line with the
2004 Public Service Agreement. RMT believes that plans should
be brought forward which would seek to:
Cope with the extra demand on the rail network
which will result from the introduction of road user charging
Develop a dedicated high-speed, north-south
Ensure that accessible rail links are fully
integrated into the ODPM's sustainable communities plans.
Re-instate Freight Facilities Grants and
encourage the movement of freight by rail.
Make station environments safer and more
Review rail fares and ticketing structures
with a view to encouraging modal shift from road to rail.
RMT would welcome the opportunity to provide oral evidence
in support of our submission.