Electric Railway Charter

This is a declaration of support for a growing, sustainable railway that will promote good growth whilst protecting and enhancing the local and global environment. The Charter is both a call for rail businesses and local regional and central government bodies to take action, and a commitment by its authors to continue to campaign in pursuit of railway electrification. The Charter is founded by four campaigning rail users’ groups along the Calder Valley Line in the North of England.

We invite business, environmental, political, workplace and community groups to declare their support for our aims.

We declare our belief, as explained more fully in our supporting document Arguments for Electrification, that:

  • Rail transport is and must continue to be developed as an attractive alternative to travel on congested roads, providing economic and environmental benefits.
  • Road transport will move towards zero-emission, zero-carbon over coming decades; so too must rail.
  • Diesel traction, including diesel “bi-mode” trains, and other forms depending on the combustion of fossil fuels must be phased out over a timescale which is short enough to make a real environmental impact.
  • Electrified railways have a powerful business advantage through lower operational, maintenance and energy costs, and user-benefits leading to the well-established “sparks effect”.  The cost of electrification is recouped through operational savings later.
  • Electrified railways have powerful environmental advantages – including the improvement of air quality, and the combatting of climate change by elimination of CO2 emissions. As electricity generation moves towards zero carbon, so will electric railways. We must aim for a zero-carbon future for transport.
  • The report “Northern Sparks” produced by the Northern Electrification Task Force (NETF) in March 2015, remains a strong statement attracting broad political support, in favour of electrification of main and secondary routes across the North of England.
  • Gaps in electrification, for example due to lengths of tunnel or difficult bridges should be overcome by on-train energy storage that uses modern batteries or genuinely clean alternative fuels (such sustainably generated hydrogen). Enduring use of diesel or other sources derived from fossil fuels should be rejected.

We call on the rail industry, and on government at all levels:

  • To reassert the need for a programme of railway electrification covering main and secondary routes.
  • To initiate without delay a programme of railway electrification across the North of England, with a dedicated planning team and workforce, building on lessons learnt from recent schemes elsewhere.
  • Specifically, to plan for early implementation of the NETF electrification schemes starting with the top-ranked proposal for the full Calder Valley Line (CVL), extending from Leeds via Bradford and Brighouse through Rochdale to Manchester and through Burnley to Preston, as top-ranked NETF recommendation.  The CVL scheme would follow naturally upon completion of the TransPennine Route Upgrade which is focussed on the route through Huddersfield.