Memorandum submitted by the TUC
To reach its challenging targets to cut carbon
emissions, the TUC believes that it is essential to plan for an
expanded role for rail transport, whether in mainline passenger
services, rail freight, light rail, metro or modern trams. Equally,
there are significant CO2 and industrial opportunities
to be won from the successful development of a UK-based biofuels
industry, provided it is given sufficient active support from
In their report, Greening the workplace,
the TUC and affiliated unions on TUSDAC (the Trade Union Sustainable
Development Advisory Committee, a joint TUC/DEFRA body), argued
The Government should make the environmental
case for rail more forcefully, and resists any proposals for rail
replacement that fails to take full account of the environmental
and social impact.
Measures in the 2005 Railways Act
may lead to cuts in regional and branch routes, or substitute
bus services, to the detriment of the government's environmental
The Government should urgently review
the potential for rail expansion, especially in planned growth
areas such as the Thames Gateway.
Currently the UK rail network employs around
130,000 people and includes approximately 21,000 miles of track,
1,000 signal boxes, 40,000 bridges and tunnels, 2,500 stations
and 9,000 level crossings. Every day the network moves 2.5million
passengers and 400,000 tonnes of freight on 20,000 trains.
Using the same 1990 base level the UK Government
has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2010 and by 60%
Currently road transport is responsible for
over a quarter of all UK carbon emissions. Furthermore, road traffic
is projected to increase by up to 40% by 2020 and the CBI has
estimated that traffic congestion costs the UK economy up to £20
billion a year. It is clear that an extensive road-building programme
would be an inappropriate way of dealing effectively with either
road traffic or congestion. The historical experience is that
extra roads lead to extra traffic bringing with it an increase
in the volume of harmful greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Rail, however, provides a viable and environmentally
Since 1994-95 there has been a 33% increase
in rail passenger journeys and a 38% increase in rail passenger
kilometres. In 2004, rail journeys exceeded one billion for the
first time since the pre-Beeching era.
Rail links can help to discourage medium distance
car journeys thereby reducing harmful emissions. The presence
of a dedicated rail service encourages business to invest in the
local economy in a way, which is not the case if a town is served
only by buses. Such investment can help to create employment opportunities,
retail outlets and other leisure facilities thereby encouraging
social development and economic regeneration. The creation of
a vibrant local economy encourages people to work and shop locally
thereby reducing the need to commute to work or travel to shops
and other leisure facilities outside of the local area.
However, the rail network is straining under
this huge rise in demand. Unless Government seriously considers
enhancing capacity then the likelihood remains that the private
train operators will resort to pricing passengers off the network
thorough increased fares. This will inevitably lead to an increased
use of the private car; encourage social exclusion and lead to
a further increase in the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.
Moreover there currently appears little evidence
of joined up thinking between Government departments on sustainable
communities. The case in point being the Government's sustainable
communities including a massive expansion in housing for the Thames
Gateway, London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor, Ashford, and Milton
Keynes-South Midlands. We are not aware of any new public transport
links that have been factored into these plans.
The Railways Act passed into legislation in
April 2005. Regrettably, there are a number of provisions in the
Act that raise serious concerns that the railways are to be cut
back on regional and branch routes. These fears were compounded
by reports of a senior DfT official telling rail industry insiders
"what you people have to understand is that the future is
about service cuts and fare increases". A cuts agenda on
rail will be extremely detrimental to the Government securing
and delivering their environmental objectives.
The Act puts in place arrangements making it
easier for bus quality contracts to be introduced if this is part
of a wider strategy which includes reductions in rail services.
Passenger Transport Authorities (PTAs) will be given powers to
make a bus quality contract scheme if they are satisfied that
the scheme "is an appropriate way of securing the transport
needs of the potential users of a relevant railway service that
has been or is to be reduced or discontinued are met".
Past experience of widespread "bustitution"
is not positive. After the Beeching cuts in the late 1960s many
rural rail services were replaced by buses. Passenger ridership
was not high leading to local authorities removing the replacement
bus services. More than 30% of the bus services were eventually
cut leaving some local communities without access to any form
of local public transport. The result was economic stagnation,
social exclusion and the reliance on the private car, resulting
in an overall increase in environmental pollution.
This threat of "bustitution" is compounded
by other proposals in the Act, which will make it easier for funding
authorities (funding authorities are the Government, PTAs TFL,
Welsh Assembly, Scottish Executive and TFL) to close railway lines.
The Act appears to weaken safeguards against line closures. Whereas
previously the criteria was whether closure would increase passenger
hardship, the new guidelines (which will be provided by the Secretary
of State) will also cover "economical, financial, environmental
and social factors". In addition the assessment will no longer
be made by the regional rail passenger committees (which are to
be abolished) but by the funding authority actually making the
proposals for closure.
Fears that the Act could lead to a contraction
in the railways are heightened by the fact that that there will
no longer be a responsibility to promote the railways. The SRA
is currently required to "promote the use of the rail network",
"secure the development of the rail network" and "to
contribute to the development of an integrated system of passengers
and transport." As the Act stands this responsibility will
be removed and not passed to the Government.
In addition there will be changes to the powers
of the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR). At present the Government
is obliged to pay what the ORR decides is necessary to maintain
the network. Now if the Government feels that the Regulator has
made an excessive requirement it will be able to revise the decision.
So if the Treasury decides to reduce subsidy or not increase it,
services or lines may have to close.
Since 1994 there has been a 50% growth
in freight on rail.
An average freight train can remove
50 HGV journeys from the UK road network.
An aggregate freight train can remove
120 HGV journeys from the UK road network.
HGVs only pay between 59%-69% of
their full social and environmental costs (greenhouse gas emissions,
air pollution, noise, congestion, accidents etc).
A 40 tonne, five axle lorry causes
over 10,000 times more damage to the road surface than the average
Emissions from road freight increased
by 59% between 1990-2002.
In 2003-04 over one billion passenger
journeys were made on the UK rail network.
In 2003-04 40.9 billion passenger
kilometres were travelled on the UK rail network.
Passenger rail produces on average,
73 gCO2 per passenger kilometre.
Cars, produce on average, 114 gCO2
per passenger kilometre.
Short haul aircraft produce on average,
330 gCO2 per passenger.
Between London and Edinburgh a passenger
travelling by train would be responsible for 12kgs of carbon emissions,
by car 71kgs and by air 96kgs.
It is the case that safety crumple zones, improved
accessibility for disabled passengers and air conditioning reduces
the energy efficiency of new rolling stock. However even this
is taken into consideration the environmental benefits of rail
over both cars and short-haul aircraft is substantial.
There are currently seven light rail
systems in the UK; Manchester Metro, Sheffield Supertram, West
Midlands, Nottingham Express Transit, Tyne & Wear Metro, Croydon
Tramlink and the DLR.
Typically light rail and trams can
carry loads of over 3,000 an hour in vehicles containing 350 passengers.
Greater Manchester Passenger Transport
Executive estimates that cars produce 30% more CO2
per passenger kilometre than trams and buses produce about 17%
The Manchester Metrolink is expected
to produce two-thirds less particulates per passenger kilometre
than a car.
one in five light rail users have
transferred from the carresulting in 22 million less car
journeys a year.
In addition to passengers carried
on the 7 light rail systems, 948 million passenger journeys were
made on the London Underground and 13.3 million passenger journeys
were made on the Glasgow Underground in 2003-04.
A new biofuels industry
In its Budget submission 2006,
the TUC welcomed the Transport Secretary's announcement in November
2005 of plans to introduce the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation
(RTFO). This would require 5% of all UK fuel sold on UK forecourts
to come from a renewable source. We would urge the government
to move rapidly to implement this measure. With carbon emissions
from transport now 10% above 1990 levels due to increases in car
usage and road freight, there is a strong case to bring forward
the planned implementation date of 2010, along with the duty incentive,
currently 20p a litre.
The RTFO is predicted to save around one million
tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010, equivalent to taking
one million cars off the road. Its successful implementation will
support a new UK industry, employment growth and cuts in emissions.
The RTFO is predicted to save around 1 million tonnes of carbon
dioxide emissions in 2010the equivalent of taking 1 million
cars off the road. The TUC would recommend that the Committee
commissions further work on the employment potential of this industryone
EEDA-commissioned independent report estimated 12,000 new jobs
in biofuels manufacture and associated activities, linked to a
Renewable Fuels Obligations to encourage its use. The TUC warmly
welcomes the announcement of a possible enhanced capital allowance
(ECA) scheme for the cleanest biofuels production plant, subject
to state aids approval.
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Budget Submission 2006, A Budget for fairness, TUC January 2006. Back