Transport strategy promises action on diesel and tube dust

London’s long-term transport strategy has been approved this week, setting forward a series of policies and measures aimed at driving improvements in air quality in the capital.

The Strategy, which has been spearheaded by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, outlines the long term vision for transport in the city, including a core aim to achieve zero emissions across all forms of transport by 2050.

The Mayor of London has promised to take further action to limit exposure to particulate matter on the London Underground Network

Draft proposals were initially outlined by City Hall in June 2017 (see story) — and the final version remains largely unchanged on policies related to air pollution.

Within the strategy, the Mayor commits to action to reduce emissions — particularly diesel emissions — from vehicles on London’s streets to support compliance with EU air quality limits.

The strategy states: “Road traffic is often the greatest contributor to poor air quality in places where people live and work. Diesel is the most significant source of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, which contribute to illegal levels of NO2.

“The reason for this is partly because of the underperformance of some diesel vehicle emission standards over time, with significant discrepancies between official emission measurements and real-world vehicle performance in urban environments.

“London does not meet legal NO2 limits, and the Mayor is committed to taking urgent action.”

Air Quality policies in the Mayor’s 2018 Transport Strategy include:

  • Working with TfL to introduce the central London ULEZ in 2019, London-wide for heavy vehicles in 2020, and an inner London ULEZ by 2021
  • All buses to meet the Euro VI standard for NOx and particulate matter by 2020 through retrofit and low emission bus zones
  • Create a comprehensive alert system to inform Londoners about air pollution episodes
  • Lobby government to amend fiscal incentives to support a switch to cleaner vehicles
  • Ensure all new double-deck buses from 2018 are hybrid, electric or hydrogen powered
  • Produce a plan to accelerate a transition from diesel to zero emission capable taxis
  • All new private hire vehicles from 2020, younger than 18 months to be zero emission capable
  • To have all cars in the GLA fleet zero emission capable by 2025, and fossil-fuel-free HGVs by 2030
  • Regulatory and pricing support for the transition to ultra-low emission vehicles
  • Ensure sufficient charging infrastructure is available to support plug-in vehicle charging
  • Implement zero emission zones in town centres from 2020 and a zero emission zone in central London from 2025
  • Work with government, manufacturers and others to reduce PM levels through technologies that reduce tyre and brake wear and auxiliary engine emissions
  • Meet or exceed standards set out in the Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) Low Emission Zone
  • Conduct further research into the health risks of particulate matter on the London Underground

Some of the work on measures set out within the strategy has already been set in motion — including plans to implement the Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from next year and action to tackle emissions from the capital’s bus fleet.

But, going forward the strategy also commits to a timeline for phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles from the Greater London Authority’s own fleet of vehicles.

GLA fleet

This includes ensuring that the GLA group will work towards: all cars in support fleets being Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) by 2025 at the latest; all newly purchased or leased cars and vans (less than 3.5 tonnes) in GLA group fleets being ZEC from 2025; all heavy vehicles in GLA group fleets being fossil fuel-free from 2030; and entire GLA fleets being zero emission by 2050.

Elsewhere City Hall has also outlined its ambition to investigate the extent and impact of particulate matter on the London Underground network. According to the Mayor’s strategy, much of this is caused by wheel and brake wear and could be mitigated by the increasing use of electric braking systems and regular cleaning on the network.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the launch of the city’s 100th rapid EV charging point this week

However, the document adds: “There is no room for complacency on this matter, however, particularly as the understanding of the effects of air quality on health develops. The Mayor will ensure that TfL undertakes further dedicated research into the risks posed to customers and staff by the Tube’s air quality, and will take action in response to any new issues, supported by robust and compelling evidence.”

The GLA will also seek to work with government and manufacturers, through TfL, to investigate how particulate matter can be reduced from tyre and brake wear in cars.

Commenting on the strategy, the Mayor said: “I’ve been clear that we need to be bold in how our city operates as London’s population grows, and this means not only investing record amounts in new infrastructure like extensions to the tube, rail and Crossrail 2, but working with boroughs and local communities to reduce our reliance on car use across London.

“With our unprecedented focus on walking, cycling and clean public transport, our ambitious Transport Strategy can act as a crucial driver for new homes and jobs, but also improve quality of life for everyone living in London.”

Related Links
Mayor of London Transport Strategy


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