Network Rail has published its Environmental Sustainability Strategy, describing it as “our most ambitious and forward-looking strategy to date which forms a key part of our ambition for rail travel to be the cleanest, greenest form of mass transport.”
A statement from Network Rail said: “Rail is already one of the greenest ways to travel and we want to make it even greener so we can help tackle climate change and play a leading role in helping to build a green economy.
“This is particularly important in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Though the long-term effects of the pandemic are not yet known, the railway has a huge role to play in supporting the government’s ambitions to build back better.
“We know environmental issues are as important to our passengers as they are to us, so as people return to the railway, we want them to know we’re committed to making the network they’re travelling on as environmentally sustainable as possible.
“This is a guide to how we should think, plan and manage the way our railway is run, to leave a lasting, positive environmental legacy for future generations.
“As outlined in the interim business case for our track decarbonisation strategy, reducing carbon emissions is a big part of our sustainability efforts. Later this autumn we expect to be the first railway organisation in the world to have science-based targets for reducing carbon. We will support delivery of the legal 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target through an affordable and deliverable programme of decarbonisation and work closely with our supply chain to reduce the industry’s overall emissions.
“The strategy also sets out important commitments around how we will protect the railway from the effects of climate change, improve biodiversity on our land and minimise waste. Planting more trees and nurturing biodiversity on our land, reducing waste within our supply chain and developing long-term strategies to improve the railway’s resilience in the face of climate change are just some of the ways we’ll maximise the positive contribution of rail for our passengers, our society and our economy while minimising any negative impact on our natural environment.”
Martin Frobisher, director of safety, technical and engineering at Network Rail, said: “Our aim is to serve the nation by providing the cleanest and greenest form of mass transport. We begin from a strong starting point. Rail is already green compared with other modes of transport but there is still a lot more that we can do. Today we are launching ambitious plans to reduce our emissions, improve our resilience to climate change and to be good for nature in the places where we operate. It is an exciting plan with many detailed commitments which will enable us to meet our targets. We will be working closely with our suppliers and with other industry partners to deliver these commitments.”
Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “As we continue to follow our greenprint for a transport recovery, we must do everything we can to make rail journeys cleaner, greener and more efficient. Rail is already one of the greenest ways to travel but schemes such as recycling coffee cups as well as the longer-term introduction of hydrogen and battery-powered trains will ensure Network Rail continue to help tackle climate change and plays a leading role in building an economy that is more sustainable and resilient.”
David Clarke, technical director at the Railway Industry Association, said: “Network Rail’s Environmental Strategy sets out a clear path for making our railways even more environmentally-friendly, and it is a plan that rail suppliers are keen to support. Rail businesses across the country have the skills, innovative thinking and drive to minimise the network’s impact on the planet. Getting started now will also stimulate an economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, creating jobs and investment across the UK, ultimately delivering a high-performing, sustainable transport system for the future.”