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HS2: Will it Meet Climate Goals?

3 min

Cc: J D Mack, Flickr
As the HS2 Minister commits to power Britain’s new highspeed trains with zero-carbon energy from the outset, Quadrant Transport looks at the logistics of this in the drive to net-zero.

HS2 trains will be powered by 100% zero-carbon energy from day one, the HS2 minister has announced.

Offering a cleaner alternative to long-distance car journeys, the trains will now support the government’s 2050 target to tackle climate change.

This commitment will also play a key part in HS2 Ltd’s aim to make the project net-zero by 2035, which targets diesel-free construction sites and major reductions in carbon emissions from the steel and concrete used to build the railway.

The first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham is set to open between 2029 and 2033

HS2 Ltd will work towards being zero carbon from 2035 through a number of new targets. These include:

Mark Thurston, HS2 CEO told Quadrant Transport: “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 the climate challenge, by providing a low carbon, long-distance transport solution and leading the construction sector to drive down carbon emissions.”

HS2 is working with the supply chain and research organisations to pilot and implement low carbon materials, alternative fuels, renewable energy and new construction methods through the HS2 Innovation programme.

There are currently 32 innovative projects across the programme with projected savings of 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions

In design projects, highlights include:

In construction, highlights include:

  • trials of a new low carbon concrete product that cuts carbon emissions by 42% compared with standard concrete;
  • a world-first pilot scheme using recycled wind turbine blades to reinforce concrete – cutting carbon emissions for reinforcement by up to 90%;
  • using 3D reinforced concrete printing onsite, cutting quantities of concrete, reducing carbon emission by up to 50% and cutting deliveries by truck;
  • pioneering the UK’s first electric forklift at a major construction site – achieving the same performance as a conventional model with zero emissions; and
  • using Clean Air Gas Engine technology, initially in site welfare units, to cut carbon on construction sites.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson told Quadrant Transport: “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.”

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