climate change

UK’s Network Rail to become the world’s first train service to set science-based targets

Network Rail set
Photo credit: Network Rail.

By Anders Lorenzen

Network Rail who manages most of the UK’s train networks and largest stations have said that they will be the first train organisation in the world to adhere to the most ambitious science-based targets to limit the impacts of climate change

Accordingly, Network Rail commits to emissions reductions in line with reducing temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius and below 2 degrees, as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement

Already making progress

Network Rail say they’re already making progress in reducing emissions. All of the energy used to power its stations, depots and offices is from renewable sources, and they’re currently undergoing trials to change their road fleet to electric-powered vehicles. 

They are also looking into how they can use the land they own to generate renewable electricity, as well as making greater efforts to support biodiversity together with an extensive community tree planting scheme.  

They say two-thirds of railway emissions are generated by suppliers so they’re keen to work with their wide supply chain, manufacturing and construction companies, and to help them set their own targets.

Rail travel, the cheapest and greenest form of transport

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, explained about their strategy: “Rail is already the cleanest and greenest mode of transporting large numbers of people and goods, but we’re committed to cutting our carbon footprint even further. That’s why we’ve set carbon reduction targets backed by science rather than simply ones we think are easy to achieve. We are the first railway in the world to set targets that will help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and this shows our commitment to change.

 Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s safety, technical and engineering director, added: “Most of our carbon emissions come from our supply chain, so we need to give our suppliers confidence that we are serious about this and must make the changes needed to meet these challenging targets. Many of our suppliers are already making great strides to this end which we can learn from. Working with them to find creative engineering solutions and clever ways to reduce the energy we consume, for example, is key to delivering these targets.”

The UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shaps, praised the company for its commitments: “Rail is one of the greenest forms of transport going and these ambitious targets will keep the UK as a world leader in low carbon travel. The objective is clear – every step of every journey, from entering the station to travelling by train, will be more environmentally friendly.”

These commitments from Network Rail come as the UK prepares to host the UN’s climate negotiations, COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in a year’s time, November 2021. 

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