Britain’s new high-speed HS2 trains would be powered using zero-carbon electricity to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the government said in London.
Andrew Stephenson, the Minister responsible for the high-speed railway, announced the commitment alongside a series of new measures to reduce the project’s carbon footprint.
Other pledges include eliminating diesel from at least one HS2 construction site in 2022 and from all sites by 2029.
There is a new target for carbon emissions from the steel and concrete used to build the railway to be halved, compared with 2021 levels by 2030.
Zero-carbon running of HS2 trains from day-one means they would only use electricity generated from sources such as wind, nuclear and solar, rather than fossil fuels.
Stephenson said: “We know that the climate crisis demands urgent action, and these commitments from HS2 are vital steps towards achieving cleaner UK travel.
“HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime investment and we want to ensure the country’s biggest infrastructure project supporting thousands of jobs and businesses is underpinned by the government’s ambitions for a greener transport and construction future.”
Britain has pledged to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.
HS2 Ltd. Chief Executive Mark Thurston said: “HS2 Ltd. is completely committed to reducing our carbon emissions as we design, build and operate the new railway.
“We’ve ensured that tackling climate change is an essential feature of all areas of our work in design, in early works and throughout major construction, allowing the project to build towards net-zero from 2035.
“The new targets announced today demonstrate the significant role HS2 will play in addressing climate challenge by providing a low-carbon, long-distance transport solution and leading the construction sector to drive down carbon emissions.”
The first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham js scheduled to open between 2029-2033.
Kathryn Brown, Director of Climate action for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “It is good to hear positive ambitions for HS2 because, so far, the construction has caused only damage and destruction of nature.
“Promising low-carbon travel is vital, but not if that comes at the expense of the natural world.
“We can’t build our way out of the climate crisis, and the government has made it clear that restoring nature and natural processes is needed at an unprecedented scale.
“When it comes to the nature emergency, so far, HS2 has only made things worse.”