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Community rail group set to relay key message during Scottish Climate Week

A South Lanarkshire community rail group is taking part in the world’s longest non-stop relay attempt to stress the need for environmental action during Scottish Climate Week.

The Rail74 community rail partnership, which covers six stations between Rutherglen and Hamilton Central, will join forces with partner Grow73 to play host to a stage of the ‘Running out of time’ relay event.

The non-stop relay, set to be longest ever attempted at 7,767km, will start in Glasgow and see a baton relayed all the way to Egypt. Its purpose is to convey a powerful message highlighting young people’s fears about the climate crisis to decision makers attending the COP27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in November.

Rail74 will host the relay on Friday, September 30, the final day of Scottish Climate Week, an annual event to raise awareness of the global climate emergency and encourage climate action across the country.

Suzie McCheyne from Rail74 said: “Rising inequalities and fears about climate change, particularly amongst young people, can give way to feelings of hopelessness. Hope is central to the ethos of Rail74, and is a theme in many of our projects – we use rail to help raise attainment and aspirations among our communities.”

Transport is the largest contributor to climate emissions in Scotland, and in response to the climate emergency, Transport Scotland has committed to reducing emissions by 75% by 2030, and to a legally binding target of net-zero by 2045. Rail accounted for just 1% of UK domestic transport emissions in 2019, despite representing 10% of the total distance travelled, and for a 30-mile journey, travelling by train instead of by car can reduce emissions by up to 86%.

Scotland’s network of community rail partnerships and station groups engage communities with their local railways and stations, promoting social inclusion, tourism, health and wellbeing, and enabling and encouraging more people to get around sustainably by train. Following on from COP26 in Glasgow last year, they have been actively promoting rail’s green credentials and working with communities and rail partners to make it easier to use the train combined with walking, cycling, buses, and community transport.

Caroline Thompson-Noble, sustainable travel engagement co-ordinator at Community Rail Network, the community rail movement’s umbrella body, said: “It is clear that rail travel is crucial to averting the climate emergency, as it is by far the most climate-friendly form of public transport. It has been suggested that Scotland’s railway use may need to be double that of pre-Covid levels to achieve net-zero, but a modal shift to rail will require much more than simply reminding people of rail’s climate-friendly credentials.

“The need to encourage greener ways to get around is more pressing than ever, and community rail can play a vital role in the great shift we need, towards more sustainable, inclusive, community-friendly transport.”