The High Speed Rail Group has launched a new report calling on the Government to commit to decarbonising the UK's railways by 2040.
HSRG wants to see a “transformative investment” in national high speed rail to make it the longer distance mode of transport choice.
It has responded to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultation: Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge.
HSRG said there must be a focus on personal mileage, not trip numbers, when assessing carbon emissions in order to shift longer distance, and more carbon intensive, travel to rail- most notably domestic aviation.
The group has called on the Government to publish an interurban or national Future of Mobility strategy to orchestrate innovation for longer distance travel.
It said rail freight must also be considered within this category.
With the freed-up capacity created by High Speed Rail 2 (HS2), HSRG said ambitious targets should be set to shift freight from road to rail, starting with a doubling of rail freight mileage when HS2 opens in 2030.
The report said: “As decarbonisation requires such rapid change, there is also a danger of focusing entirely on only the most direct emissions.
“Our submission makes the case for considering wider, whole life carbon impacts beyond the transport sector, including through land use implications of rail.”