Our friends electric: How Europe is cleaning up its railways

electric train, railway, electrification

Britain may have an electric railway that this year celebrates its 134th birthday, but electrification of the entire network lags behind other European countries. Forty per cent of the British rail network was electrified by 2006, representing 60% of all rail journeys. However, electrification of remaining lines, particularly with the more-efficient overhead lines, remains slow.

While we wring our hands about the financial cost of going electric, German politicians are being lobbied to dramatically increase the 60 per cent proportion of its network that is already electrified. The country’s Pro-Rail Alliance reports that although the EU average is only 52 per cent, European front runners such as Switzerland (100% electrification ), Belgium (85%), the Netherlands and Sweden (both 76%), Italy (71%) and Austria (70%) should be emulated.

electrification railway Europe graph

According to Pro-Rail Alliance director, Dirk Flege: “While our European neighbours are upgrading their networks to make them more environmentally friendly, we in Germany are besotted with the idea of installing overhead lines on our motorways. In contrast, there are no clear targets and no properly funded programme of electrification for Germany’s railway network.”

railway overhead electric lines

Flege called on politicians to adopt a target for the national rail network of 70 percent electrification by 2025.

Matthias Gastel, the Green party’s railway policy spokesman in the Bundestag, pointed out that policies in other countries are considerably more sustainable: “On the issue of electro mobility, Germany should not just concentrate on the car. Today, 40 per cent of our rail network is still not equipped with overhead lines. Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands are doing considerably more for climate protection. A 70 per cent degree of electrification by 2025 is a first, interim target on the way to 100 percent e-mobility on the railways.”

Britain’s most ethical insurance company

The ETA has been voted the most ethical insurance company in Britain for the second year running by the Good Shopping Guide.

Beating household-name insurance companies such as John Lewis and the Co-op, the ETA earned an ethical company index score of 89.

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Twenty seven years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

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