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Translink: Let’s Change Together - looking beyond COP26

Following the COP26 summit in Glasgow last month, Translink group chief executive Chris Conway looks at what was one of the most important events in a generation and what’s next for the transport operator as we head towards net zero

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Pictured at the launch of the Let’s Change Together Campaign are Emer Rafferty and Translink chief executive, Chris Conway

Pictured at the launch of the Let’s Change Together Campaign are Emer Rafferty and Translink chief executive, Chris Conway

Aaron McCracken Photography

An NI Railways train

An NI Railways train

One of Translink's zero emission buses

One of Translink's zero emission buses

Aaron McCracken Photography

Chris Conway

Chris Conway

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Pictured at the launch of the Let’s Change Together Campaign are Emer Rafferty and Translink chief executive, Chris Conway

Translink was delighted to be invited to participate in the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow, updating stakeholders and opinion formers on the theme ‘Translink’s Transformative Journey to Decarbonise Public Transport in Northern Ireland’.

We were proud to secure a prestigious place, alongside businesses, academia, youth and civil society groups from around the UK and the rest of the world to showcase our actions and contribute to these vital conversations.

With approximately 30,000 attendees from across the world, COP26 has focused global attention on the pressing need to take climate action – we all need to reduce emissions and decrease our dependence on the private car as part of a worldwide strategy as our legacy to future generations.

 

Time for action

There is no more time for delay when it comes to taking climate action and as the world takes stock of COP26, it is clear that Translink’s Climate Positive Strategy and #LetsChangeTogether message has never been more necessary.

The figures are stark; in 2019, transport produced 27% of the UK’s total emissions – the large majority of this (91%) came from road transport. Across the UK as a whole, if everyone switched just one car journey each month to sustainable transport, more than one billion fewer cars would be on our roads and two million tonnes of carbon dioxide would be removed from the atmosphere every year.

Public transport networks are key to any net zero policy and Translink is making a call for organisations and individuals to work with us to deliver the necessary changes to achieve net zero emissions across Northern Ireland, in keeping with our own Climate Positive Strategy, where we have laid out our plans to achieve fully net zero transport in Northern Ireland by 2040 and become fully climate positive by 2050; we will also reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

 

Translink’s role

Translink’s mission is to lead the transformation of transport in Northern Ireland and as part of this, we have already introduced the first hydrogen buses on the island of Ireland. With the announcement of 38 zero emission battery-electric buses for Foyle Metro to deliver a fully net zero urban fleet for Derry~Londonderry by 2023, alongside a further 100 locally-built zero emission electric and hydrogen buses for Metro in Belfast due to start arriving soon, Translink is on course to operate one of the UK’s largest zero emission bus fleets.

Our first intermediate Class 4000 railway carriages have arrived, allowing us to introduce the first of a planned seven walkthrough six-car sets, all of which will be visible across the NI Railways network by the end of summer 2022 and providing an additional 1,600 seats every day.

This is an initial step ahead of transitioning to bi-modal fleet in the years ahead. We are also participating in the All-Island Strategic Railway Review, looking at potential expansion and enhancement of the network, including examining the option of electrification and the use of the rail network for freight transport.

 

Benefits of net zero

Enhanced use of public transport will not only deliver environmental benefits – ending our reliance on the car in favour of bus and rail and other forms of sustainable transportation will promote active travel, healthier lifestyles and reduce social and environmental inequality, as well as improving our economy. Research shows that a 10% improvement in bus connections is associated with a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation, while a walk to and from the bus stop or train station can provide up to half the recommended level of daily exercise.

A greater focus and investment in public transport will also reduce the number of cars on our roads, leading to a reduction in congestion and the development of our town and city centres as welcoming, environmentally-friendly, active travel zones.

As well as showing environmental leadership, the Translink Climate Positive strategy recognises the need for collective positive change in everyone’s behaviour. COP26 is a major incentive to come together with other environmental leaders to showcase and inspire others.

We want to encourage greater use of public transport as an easy, sustainable way to take individual climate action while also demonstrating wider environmental benefits around freeing up space in our urban areas for people and active travel, creating cleaner air to breathe for a healthier place to live, work and visit.

Climate change is not just for governments and corporations – it’s everyone’s business, and everyone has a part to play. We want to work with all stakeholders to accelerate action and build back better for a more sustainable future that will unlock inclusive, greener growth for the generations to come.


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