The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has released its electrification strategy research, which highlights an opportunity to electrify 95% of rail freight operations in the UK by the mid-2040s.

The detailed map suggests that only 800 miles of additional electrification is needed to enable this.

It is estimated that the initial 60 miles of infill electrification will cost around £50m per annum over two years.

Julian Worth, chair of CILT’s Rail Freight Forum and lead author of the strategy said: “The strategy benefits passengers as well as freight customers. Almost all the routes involved carry passenger trains and the strategy would enable life-expired diesel trains to be replaced by modern electric units.”

Only 10% of British freight trains are currently hauled by electric locomotives.

However, an electrification programme of 40 route miles per annum for 20 years could deliver the opportunities highlighted by CILT. The total cost would be £100m per annum.

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David Clarke, technical director at RIA, said: “Today’s reports by both the Transport Select Committee and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport clearly show that rail is not on track to help the Government achieve Net Zero by 2050.

“Both the TSC’s report, which urges Government ministers to go faster when it comes to electrification, and the CILT’s roadmap, which sets out a plan to decarbonise 95% of rail freight by the mid 2040s, are helpful and timely.

The first priority area would allow zero-carbon electric trains to be used in place of diesel trunk HGVs on the A14, M6, and A1.

The second phase would electrify the link from Britain’s third largest container port at Southampton to inland markets. This would remove diesel trunk HGVs on the A34, A43, and M40 and replace them with zero-carbon electric rail services.

The third phase involves routes from major quarries and cement works in the Peak District and the Mendips, allowing electric haulage of heavy construction materials to Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and the South East.

This would remove diesel HGVs from the A6 and A38 in the Midlands and North, plus the A36, A303, M3, and M4 in the South.

Clarke says: “The TSC report is very clear that with just 38% of the rail network electrified and the Government committed to removing all diesel-only trains by 2040, there needs to be a major acceleration of electrification on intensively-used lines and the ramping up of hydrogen and battery trains on other parts of the network.

“The CILT roadmap shows how 80 million diesel HGV miles can be taken off the UK’s roads each year, as well as giving credible evidence that a rolling programme of freight electrification can be delivered at lower cost than recent schemes, building on RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge report.”