Government-commissioned sustainable rail blueprint unveiled for Britain
The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has launched the Sustainable Rail Blueprint—a framework to guide the rail industry in the UK towards enhanced environmental and social sustainability.
The Blueprint’s focus lies in aligning with government objectives on carbon reduction, enhancing air quality, safeguarding biodiversity, conserving resources and improving the overall quality of life across the nation.
The Blueprint covers 11 sustainability topics relating to emissions, the natural environment and social sustainability. It also identifies six primary enablers for improvements across these topics simultaneously.
Additionally, the Blueprint sets out the roles of stakeholders, defining the responsibilities of train operators, infrastructure managers, rolling stock owners, the supply chain, government and regulators in realising sustainable rail practices.
Initiated in response to the Department for Transport’s call for a cross-industry sustainability strategy in 2020, the Sustainable Rail Blueprint was developed in collaboration with industry stakeholders and delivered by RSSB’s sustainability experts.
RSSB’s sustainable development director George Davies said: “The Sustainable Rail Blueprint is a practical resource to shape thinking and guide action across environmental and social issues, whilst recognising the pressures our industry is under currently.
“The Sustainable Rail Blueprint sets out what needs addressing, how it can be worked on and who needs to get involved. Reflecting legislation and policy along with what society expects, the Blueprint brings consistency to realise an even more sustainable railway.”
The rail sector faces the imperative to not only achieve net-zero carbon emissions but also to amplify its positive impact on the environment, local communities, and society at large.
Already in motion, organisations across the rail industry are actively incorporating the Blueprint into its operations.
RSSB has revealed that companies are realigning existing sustainability strategies with the Blueprint’s objectives.
Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “As we look to achieve our net zero goals, this Government-commissioned blueprint will become a vital resource for the rail industry, providing clear guidance on what a sustainable railway for the future should look like.”
The Board is also spearheading various programs, including a data platform to measure and monitor sustainability performance, a learning hub to enhance industry knowledge and the integration of the Blueprint into business processes and contractual mechanisms.
Moreover, RSSB is facilitating sustainable rail working groups, fostering collective action across technical topics.
As the industry adapts to evolving demands post-pandemic, the Sustainable Rail Blueprint is anticipated to shape debates and decisions on options, affordability and practicality.
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