Research and Innovation Highlights
The Research and Innovation update shows how RSSB’s work is benefitting the rail industry, and provides details of recently completed projects where the findings and outputs are ready for you to use. You’ll also find out what’s in the pipeline and how to get involved.
Latest update: November 2019
Rail has always prided itself on its green credentials. But in a rapidly changing technical, social and political context, now is the time to review its impacts and ambitions.
With 70 per cent of passenger vehicle miles already travelled on electrified lines, we are well on the way to providing the mass, low-carbon transport envisaged in Britain’s Industrial Strategy. However, as the country targets net zero carbon by 2050, there are questions around the other 30 per cent. To avoid being overtaken by the rapid progress in the automotive sector, decisions need to be made in the next few years.
The position on air quality is even more urgent. Emissions of key pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) from road transport are falling much faster than carbon. While rail contributes just 4 per cent of NOx and 1 per cent of PM nationally, it can produce significant pockets of poor air quality. As cities establish controlled emission zones, rail could find itself the owner of some pollution hotspots.
In the November update, you’ll read about two ambitious new research programmes that respond to these challenges. The DECARB programme builds on the work of the rail industry’s Decarbonisation Taskforce, laying the foundation for rail to play its part in the move to a net zero economy. The CLEAR programme aims to support taking robust, riskbased decisions on air pollution. CLEAR will help industry understand both the scale and specific locations of emissions. And it will inform the development of a Rail Air Quality Strategy, which will set out rail’s response to this urgent health challenge.
We’ll be drawing on industry for support and expertise in both programmes, so please get in touch if you can play a part.
Technical solutions are key to reducing emissions, and to tackle other major rail industry challenges. RSSB, together with Network Rail and UKRRIN, is working to refresh the Rail Technical Strategy (RTS). The refresh looks at the progress made since its publication in 2012. It aims to make the strategy more focused and compelling: an exciting vision of the future that is realistic and achievable.