A new partnership to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network in the UK has been announced.
Rolls-Royce and UK rail rolling stock owner and asset manager Porterbrook have signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, as well as considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation.
That includes the fuel supply chain, infrastructure and operational models that can support the transition towards net zero as the UK’s railway accounts for around 1% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The initiative supports the government’s ambition to remove all passenger and freight diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050.
Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said: “We have extensive experience of rail technology and are able to draw upon expertise from across our business in new net zero and zero emissions technologies for safety critical applications.
“We are committed to helping our customers make the transition to net zero by enabling them to use our current and future products in a way that is compatible with emissions reduction and this relationship with Porterbrook will help us further understand the options for decarbonising rail transport. For us, playing a leading role in enabling the energy transition is both a societal imperative and a very significant commercial opportunity.”
In addition, the two companies will explore the potential for “advanced hybridisation” following their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel rail into passenger service, which help reduce carbon emissions by up to 25%.
Mary Grant, CEO, Porterbrook added: “We have been at the forefront of developing alternative traction systems for rolling stock over recent years, through our innovations and long term asset management approach.
“Our partnership with Rolls-Royce will mean that we continue to lead the UK’s rail sector in sustainable solutions, by leveraging expertise across industries on the pathway to net zero.”