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The Centro Green Transport Charter

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Centro GTC slides 04 Dec 2009In 2009, transport authority Centro established ‘Moving Ahead: A Green Transport Charter for the West Midlands’.

[Centro document, apparently produced in 2010]

‘Moving Ahead: A Green Transport Charter for the West Midlands’ is an action-driven pledge by the transport sector to work together and demonstrate leadership in tackling climate change, reducing carbon emissions and supporting green innovation.

The Charter promotes and raises awareness of the positive actions being taken, and commitments already made to support the national and regional sustainable development agenda.

It establishes a Charter Action Plan to progress agreed actions, push the transport sector to improve its environmental performance and support the delivery of smart, sustainable initiatives.

The Charter enables a unique and dynamic platform for members to exchange views, and debate key emerging policies and strategic issues concerning sustainability and transport.

The ambition is for the Charter to be signed by a wide variety of organisations, from those operating and supporting transport to those campaigning and developing green policies and programmes. If your organisation is committed to making transport greener and more sustainable, you should sign the Charter.


The Charter is based around the following principles:

• To mobilise the transport sector towards a more cohesive and smarter approach to the delivery of green transport solutions.

• To identify appropriate methods for the application of low carbon technologies.

• To foster collaboration and shared practices in order to achieve emission reductions and behavioural change.

• To ensure climate change adaptation by building stronger links between the transport sector and other key partners in the region.

The Commitment

Charter signatories commit to:

1. Reduce CO2 Emissions and Other Harmful Pollutants from the Transport Sector

2. Support Pilot Trials of New Technology to Reduce Harmful Emissions

3. Support Initiatives to Encourage Sustainable Travel Behaviour

Signing up to the Charter means you will:

Reduce CO2 Emission from the Transport Sector

For example:

• Develop effective ways of measuring total carbon emissions in the West Midlands Metropolitan Area;

• Increase the take up of such carbon reduction techniques as eco-driving, and assess their impact;

• Identify potential target setting for reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, and forge links with local strategies and plans (such as the Local Transport Plan).

Support the Pilot Trials of New Technology to Reduce Harmful Emissions

For example:

• Encourage the development and uptake of environmentally friendly technologies and techniques;

• Raise funds aimed at piloting green technology projects;

• Establish smart links to private electric vehicles and their recharging network.

Promote and Encourage Travel Behaviour

For example:

• Participate in the joint Network West Midlands/TravelWise ‘Smarter Choices’ regional sustainable travel awareness campaign;

• Further improve public awareness of the climate change agenda and the role of public transport, walking, cycling and other sustainable travel methods;

• Support regional partners in the promotion of active travel choices, helping combat obesity and improving health outcomes in the West Midlands;

• Commit support to workplaces and schools with the implementation of their sustainable travel plans.

What Next?

The first challenge is to develop an ACTION PLAN. The plan will focus on developing and agreeing specific actions to support the three Charter commitments.

Charter Signatories

Signatories will:

1. Contribute towards the development and delivery of the Charter’s Action Plan from September to April 2011.

2. Share best practice and support championing and celebrating the successes of the transport sector in the West Midlands Metropolitan Area.

3. Identify potential funds that will support delivery of the Action Plan.

Centro Role

Centro will:

• Create a Charter website and logo;

• Develop the Charter Action Plan;

• Manage agreed measurement and monitoring arrangements;

• Co-ordinate an annual conference, and;

• Co-ordinate the publication of an annual review.


What BENEFITS will membership bring to your organisation?

• Raise your organisation’s profile in helping lead the West Midlands’ low carbon transport agenda;

• The ability to use Charter outcomes, knowledge and best practice to improve efficiency and reduce costs;

• Access intelligence and expertise to inform business improvements and efficiency savings;

• An opportunity to increase your organisation’s operational and environmental status, particularly in the eyes of other operators, customers and stakeholders.

Next Steps

What NEXT? We would like your organisation to become an active member of ‘Moving Ahead: A Green Transport Charter for the West Midlands’.

Please indicate your intention by forwarding:

1. A letter of intention confirming your willingness to become a signatory to the Charter.

2. Tell us about what your organisation is already doing by completing the Best Practice Form

Please forward both documents to or telephone (0121) 214 7329 for further details.

The Charter aims are mainly focused on carbon emissions. But quantitatively, what has it achieved so far?

Written by beleben

January 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

HS2 and low carbon transport, part four

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The Campaign for Better Transport and CPRE heart Greengauge 21

According to the Environmental Change Institute of Oxford University

The implementation cost of a 55 mph [~90 km/h] motorway speed limit in Europe, including signage and enforcement, has been calculated to be around $11 (i.e. USD11) per barrel of oil saved, or around £40 per tonne of carbon saved.

In 2006, the ECI claimed an enforced 70 mph [112 km/h] speed limit on Britain’s roads could cut carbon emissions by 1 million tonnes per year by 2010. If the limit were set at 60 mph [96 km/h], the annual reduction would be around 1.94 million tonnes. But neither the Labour nor the following coalition government were interested. (In fact, Philip Hammond, coalition transport secretary for a while, seemed quite keen to raise the motorway limit to 80 mph.)

The cost per tonne of cutting carbon emissions also featured in the April 19, 2012 Washington Post Wonkblog.

The California High Speed Rail Authority claims that by 2030, if the [proposed California high speed] train ran entirely on renewable energy, then it would start reducing the state’s carbon emissions by about 5.4 million metric tons per year. That would mean the rail network would cut California’s emissions at a cost of, at the very low end, $250 per ton of carbon dioxide over the ensuing 50 years, given the system’s current price tag. (This is being extremely generous, since it ignores the energy used to build the system — by some estimates, high-speed rail would actually increase emissions in its first few decades.)

And that’s a pricey way to cut carbon. To put this in perspective, research has suggested that you could plant 100 million acres of trees and help reforest the United States for a cost of somewhere between $21 to $91 per ton of carbon dioxide. Alternatively, a study by Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley found that it would cost somewhere between $59 and $87 per ton of carbon dioxide to phase out coal power in the Western United States and replace it with solar, wind and geothermal. If reducing greenhouse gases is your primary goal, then there are a slew of more cost-effective ways to do it than building a bullet train.

Assuming the London — West Midlands phase (‘LWM’) of HS2 cost £17 billion, and Greengauge 21’s baseline claim of “600,000 tonnes of carbon saved over 60 years” were accurate

  1. a 60 mph road speed limit would produce three times as much carbon reduction in one year, than HS2 LWM would in sixty years
  2. the per-tonne cost of carbon saved from building HS2 would be £28,300.

Automotive carbon emissions, varying by speed and size of car

Written by beleben

September 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm

HS2 and low carbon transport, part three

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Part one | Part two

Greengauge 21 diagram claiming carbon reducing effects of HS2, 2026-2086

In ‘The carbon impacts of HS2‘, Jim Steer’s Greengauge 21 “developed a base scenario, consistent with Government policies and forecasts”, in which the operation of phase 1 of HS2 was estimated to reduce emissions by 1.8 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) over 60 years. This would ‘comfortably offset’ the approximately 1.2 MtCO2e from building the line. The report claimed that there is

[…]huge scope to influence the carbon outcome of HS2, and specifically, to ensure that it brings about a useful reduction in emissions.

Under an environmentally-responsible scenario, the operational carbon savings could increase to 3.5 MtCO2e, increasing the net saving (taking into account embedded carbon) to 2.3 MtCO2e. But in contrast, under a laissez-faire scenario, without appropriate sustainability policies, it is possible that there will be no operational carbon savings available to offset the embedded carbon.
While the first phase of HS2 between London and the West Midlands is estimated to deliver a 1.8 MtCO2e reduction in carbon emissions, this would be increased four-fold to a saving of more than seven million tonnes CO2e when the second phase of HS2 opens. The route extensions to Leeds, Manchester and Heathrow substantially increase the scope for mode shift from air and car travel.

Further, we conclude that, in the design for HS2 and for a wider HSR network, the following would maximise HS2’s sustainability:

a) Reducing the top speed of HS2 where justified, balancing energy consumption and mode shift. Reducing the top speed of HS2 from 360km/h to 300km/h could reduce energy consumption by 19%. In the early years of HS2 operation, before the electricity supply is substantially decarbonised (say, before the 2030s), the carbon impacts of HS2 would be improved by adopting this lower top operating speed. Then, as electrical power generation is more fully decarbonised and the HSR network is extended, the journey time improvements on HS2 become even more important in delivering mode shift, and so a top speed of 360 km/h is more likely to be needed and justified by the carbon savings from reduced air and private car travel;

b) Construction of city centre stations rather than parkway stations where feasible. City centre stations are estimated to be around 7% more efficient in carbon terms than parkway stations, even when only considering the direct impacts of HSR travel. The effect of local access trips to HSR stations, which can be made more readily by sustainable travel modes to city centre stations, will only increase this benefit. All HS2 stations need to be designed around high modal shares for sustainable access travel modes and supported by planning policies that deliver sustainable patterns of land use;

c) Full use of capacity freed up on the existing rail network. HS2 Ltd has adopted conservative assumptions on how much West Coast Main Line (WCML) capacity freed by HS2 is re-used for new and improved rail services. We estimate that the HS2 carbon savings could be increased by 8% by fully using spare WCML capacity for enhanced commuter or inter-regional passenger services. Even more benefits could be delivered with policies that ensure greater occupancy of these medium-distance trains. This highlights the value in ensuring that future rail franchises are set up so that they are able to unlock the spin-off benefits of HS2. However, the carbon savings from using the additional unclaimed capacity of three train paths per hour in each direction for freight are considerably larger still, adding 55% to the direct carbon savings from HS2. This is such a strong advantage that it will be worthwhile examining complementary measures to ensure that a major switch from HGV road haulage to railfreight is achieved as a consequence of HS2.

As well as the extension of HS2 further north, wider policies that would have greatest effect in terms of maximising the potential of HS2 to reduce carbon emissions include:

a) Ensuring the rate of electricity decarbonisation set out by the Committee on Climate Change is delivered. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended an ambitious decarbonisation trajectory for the UK’s electricity sector which would result in the average HSR carbon emissions per passenger reducing by 92% by 2050. A slower but still relatively ambitious reduction in the carbon intensity of electricity could see the total HS2 carbon savings in the base scenario reduced by nearly one-third. A scenario in which there is a second ‘dash for gas’ and therefore slower decarbonisation would reduce the HS2 carbon benefits by two-thirds.

b) Air capacity regulation and management. HS2 will reduce the number of passengers making short-haul flights, and even the first stage of HS2 brings about a significant reduction in carbon from aviation, estimated at 2 MtCO2e over the life of the project. The question of how this result is affected by subsequent decisions on the numbers of runways and their levels of use at the congested South East England airports cannot be addressed at a national level because constraints on airport development in one country may simply move the location of airlines’ hubs to other countries. Even if there is an uptake in longer-haul flights in place of displaced short-haul services at Heathrow, the aviation sector carbon reduction benefits of HS2 might therefore be achievable, particularly with appropriate regulation and management.

c) Management and regulation of the motorway and trunk road network to reflect the external costs of driving. Policies to manage the capacity and use of the strategic road network, including through pricing mechanisms, could increase the carbon savings of HS2 and would help ensure that the benefits of mode shift to HS2 are sustained. It is not possible to optimise the carbon savings by looking at individual travel modes in isolation; management of their use needs to be considered together.

d) Transport and spatial planning policies to encourage sustainable travel choices. Ensuring that HS2 serves locations of high demand density and locations where there is high capacity public transport should be a planning aim. The accessibility boost that HSR can provide to cities is a unique quality. It can be used to magnify the carbon benefits of HSR if complementary policies on spatial development seek to foster an intensification of development in urban areas so as to reduce trip distances and the need for private car use.

Obviously, Mr Steer hasn’t got the foggiest idea what the carbon intensity of aviation, cars, electricity generation, or whatever, would be in the period 2026 to 2086; because future events such as rates of technical progress, and demand distribution for travel, are not knowable. But in showing a relatively large net reduction in emissions from classic rail carbon, Mr Steer’s diagram implies a substantial reduction in train kilometres and connectivity for non-HS2 towns like Stoke-on-Trent, Peterborough, Bolton, and Coventry.

Department for Transport, historic estimates for mode contribution to UK greenhouse gas emissions

Even though calculation of carbon emissions for past years is not an exact science, the Department for Transport climate change factsheet gives an insight into the relative importance of greenhouse gas emissions by source. For the year 2009 alone, UK domestic transport emissions were estimated by DfT at 122.2 million tonnes, and the UK total was 607.2 million tonnes.

In the improbable event that Mr Steer’s estimates were accurate, the ‘direct’ carbon reduction from HS2 over the whole period of 60 years would be ((1.8 – 1.2)/607.2)*100, i.e. 0.1% of the United Kingdom’s total emissions for the single year 2009.

The Campaign for Better Transport and CPRE heart Greengauge 21

The secondary measures mentioned in the Greengauge 21 report are not dependent on HS2 for their implementation. But, through its National Planning Policy Framework, the coalition government is moving away from the approach mentioned by Mr Steer, in favour of a plus-laissez-faire approach to land-use planning.

Written by beleben

September 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

HS2 and low carbon transport, part two

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Greengauge21, The carbon impacts of High Speed 2, Sep 2012The Campaign for Better Transport press release for Greengauge 21’s “The Carbon Impacts of High Speed 2” report stated that HS2 could deliver greater carbon reductions by

sensible complementary policy measures

and by

making full use of the capacity that HS2 will release on the existing railway.

It might be worth looking at the ‘crucial factors’ for ‘greater carbon reductions’ mentioned by CBT.

Crucial factor 1: The electricity used to power the high speed trains is low carbon and how quickly this decarbonisation is delivered

Nowhere in the Greengauge report is ‘low carbon’ electricity defined.

At the national level, the amount of greenhouse gases from transport would depend on the total quantity of transport produced in the economy, not just the specific emissions per kilometre.

HS2 is a system intended to increase longer distance travel; on HS2 Ltd’s estimate, a fifth of all traffic would be new journeys. How is that compatible with an objective of reducing carbon emissions?

The report also sidestepped the issue of non-greenhouse gas pollutants, and the nature of the electricity generating capacity used to power HS2.

If HS2 energy were generated in nuclear plants, that would not be carbon-free, and there would be non-carbon pollutants (i.e. nuclear waste, which requires treatment and long-term storage).

Crucial factor 2: New development is focused around the stations served by HS2, encouraging use of public transport, walking and cycling

It’s hard to see how focusing development around HS2 stations would have much effect at the national level. In the current version of HS2 Ltd’s Y network, there are just nine stations, serving just four cities directly:

* London Euston
* Old Oak Common

* Birmingham Curzon Street

* Manchester central (precise location undisclosed)

* Leeds central (precise location undisclosed)

Four of the stations would be on the urban periphery:

* Manchester outskirts (precise location undisclosed)
* East Midlands (precise location undisclosed)
* South Yorkshire (precise location undisclosed)
* Bickenhill

Crucial factor 3: High-speed rail stations are located in city centres rather than on the urban periphery

As noted above, four of the nine Y network stations are likely to be on the urban periphery.

Crucial factor 4: The additional capacity that is created on the conventional railway is used to its full potential, especially for rail freight which would result in fewer lorries on the roads

What exactly is the “additional capacity” that is created on the conventional railway by HS2? The report does not say. (It’s worth remembering that most existing capacity goes unused, most of the time.)

Rail-enabled journeys not starting/finishing at the nine stations of the proposed Y network would need to use the existing network.

The capacity created by HS2 on the legacy railway would be mainly seats, not paths. HS2’s effect on path capacity on the existing network is marginal. Increasing utilisation of the WCML for railfreight would inevitably require corresponding cutbacks to passenger service.

Crucial factor 5: Policies are put in place to take passengers out of cars and planes and on to HS2

What would those “policies” be, and how would they take passengers out of cars and planes and on to HS2? The report does not say.

Written by beleben

September 21, 2012 at 11:39 am

Restricting HS2 to 300 kilometres per hour

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At 300 km/h, rail traction energy (and emissions) would be around 1.96 times that of 200 km/h operation (figures from Systra via Greengauge 21)

Compared to 200 km/h, running trains at 400 km/h uses 3.2 times as much energy. But to satisfy the inner boy racer in some politicians, 400 km/h is an official aspiration for phase two of Britain’s HS2 rail project.

HS2’s supporters are rather less keen to talk about the energy and emissions consequences of 400 km/h. So what happens if trains ran at 300 km/h instead? Well, in that event, traction energy (and emissions) would be around 1.96 times that of 200 km/h operation.

Not a fantastic result, considering that the Climate Change Act 2008 mandates that “the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline”.

According to HS2 Ltd’s presentation, ‘High Speed Rail – The HS2 Project‘, by their most prolific author, Mr XXXX XXXX, “we need 250+ km/h”. A 250 km/h target is certainly much more appropriate to British geography than 300+ km/h. It’s likely that 250 km/h could be achieved on sections of a rebuilt Great Central Main Line formation south of Rugby. Obviously, in terms of embedded carbon, ‘recycling’ the GCML has a second massive advantage over HS2.

Andrew McNaughton, "the conductor of HS2", backs 400 km/h (NCE)

Written by beleben

August 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

HS2 and decarbonisability of transport

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Carbon emissions in the transport sector, Great Britain 2005 (HS2 Ltd)At the time of writing, “decarbonisability” yields zero results in an internet search. This could be a reflection of the awkwardness of the term, or the obscureness of the topic, but it’s important to think about how greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector are best managed, and the most cost-effective way to bring about reductions.

All futurology involves guesses, but decarbonisation strategy can at least be informed by considering the characteristics and relative importance of different modes. It’s sometimes said that air transport is likely to be harder to decarbonise than rail, because railways can be run from electricity, and aircraft cannot. Even conventionally (petrol/diesel) powered cars might be quite decarbonisable, through powertrain and weight improvements.

With road freight, reduction in vehicle weight has less potential, because of the cargo (steel castings, cans of beer, etc). And with current battery technology, an electric heavy goods vehicle wouldn’t really have a payload. However, domestic truck carbon emissions are ten times those of aviation.

HS2 compares poorly in carbon per passenger-km against existing rail. But even if HS2 was run off sunshine, replaced every single flight from Glasgow to London, and flight slots were not re-used, the overall effect on transport carbon would still be minimal. Because aviation is not large enough a source of carbon emissions.

One cost-effective way of tackling transport carbon emissions is to replace intercity roadfreight with electric railfreight, wherever possible. That would mean a network of efficient transshipment facilities, an electrified Midland Main Line, an electrified Varsity Line, etc.

Written by beleben

October 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

The HS2 bad policy spiral

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HS2 shows how one bad policy can beget multiple undesirable effects. And how – if not left too late – these bad consequences can be avoided, by abandoning the idea that led to them. No-one knows what the demand for North – South travel will be in the future, but the decision to pursue high speed rail magnifies the project risk, because of the very long lead times involved.

If demand were to continue to rise at a high rate, HS2’s politically-led 350 km/h peak speed would rule out adding rail capacity by re-using the existing Great Central formation, even though city-to-city journey times with a 225-250 km/h speed wouldn’t be much different. The prestige HS2 linespeed also

  • pushes up the electricity consumption by around 100% -> which creates an operating cost problem -> which leads to an ongoing affordability and subsidy problem;
  • increases traction carbon by around 100% -> which creates an environment and compliance problem (the Climate Change Act 2008 sets out a year 2050 target for the six ‘Kyoto gases’ at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline);
  • requires the acquisition of more special purpose rolling stock (that cannot be cascaded to other lines), contrary to a policy of ‘standardised design, to reduce costs’.

Whatever the future demand for North – South travel is, setting 250 km/h as the rail design speed dispenses with the need to excavate thousands of tons of spoil, halves the traction energy bill, ticks the ‘carbon-possible’ box, and enables the use of truly interoperable trains.

Written by beleben

September 28, 2011 at 10:00 am