HS2 trains will run on zero-carbon electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the government has announced.

Andrew Stephenson, the Minister responsible for high-speed rail, announced the commitment alongside a range of new measures to reduce the project’s carbon footprint.

Other commitments include eliminating diesel from at least one HS2 site this year – and from all sites by 2029.

There is also a new target for carbon emissions from steel and concrete used to build the railway to halve by 2030 compared to 2021 levels.

The carbon-free operation of the HS2 trains from day one means that they only use electricity from sources such as wind, nuclear and solar instead of fossil fuels.

Mr Stephenson said: “We know the climate crisis calls for urgent action and these pledges from HS2 are important steps towards cleaner travel in the UK.

“HS2 is a one-time investment and we want to ensure that the country’s largest infrastructure project – supporting thousands of jobs and businesses – is underpinned by the government’s ambitions for a greener transport and construction future.”

The UK has committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd said: “HS2 Ltd is fully committed to reducing our carbon emissions as we design, build and operate the new railway.

“We have ensured that combating climate change is an essential feature of all aspects of our work – in design, early work and throughout construction – enabling the project to build to net zero by 2035.

“The new targets announced today demonstrate the significant role HS2 will play in addressing the climate challenge by providing a long-distance, low-carbon transport solution and guiding the construction sector to reduce carbon emissions.”

The first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham is scheduled to open between 2029 and 2033.

Kathryn Brown, director of climate action at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “It’s good to hear positive ambition for HS2 as so far construction has only caused damage and destruction to nature.”

She added: “The promise of low-carbon travel is vital, but not when it comes at the expense of nature.

“We cannot work our way out of the climate crisis and the government has made it clear that nature and natural processes need to be restored on an unprecedented scale.

“In terms of the natural emergency, HS2 has only made things worse so far.”