South Western Railway commits to net-zero emissions by 2040
South Western Railway (SWR) has unveiled plans to deliver the rail industry’s testbed roadmap to net-zero, pledging to work with the Government and Network Rail to outline the required steps to decarbonisation.
SWR has confirmed it will create a roadmap to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest, in a bid to help steer the decarbonisation of the whole UK rail network, soon to be overseen by the new Great British Railways.
The company’s initiative has been backed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and will work with Network Rail and other key stakeholders to deliver the vision.
SWR will set science-based targets aligned to the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement. To date, more than 50% of SWR’s emissions come from supply chains, 45% from running train services, and 3% from buildings such as depots and stations.
SWR’s head of sustainability Amy Dickinson said: “Tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the railway, and indeed the whole country. Taking the train is already one of the most sustainable ways to travel, and we are proud of the progress we have made so far, but we know that more needs to be done.
“We are leading the way as the first train operating company to publish a robust, transparent, and cost-effective roadmap to net zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the UK’s overall 2050 legal deadline. We want to work holistically on sustainable transport links to and from our stations, trialling new technology, and utilising opportunities to create hundreds of green jobs across our network, ensuring our customers can travel in an increasingly green and sustainable way.”
The company has outlined a range of external and internal factors that will need to be overcome in order to reach net-zero by 2040.
SWR claims its commitment is dependent on a range of external factors, including access to Government funding, policy commitments to decarbonise the National Grid and electrify the rail network, investment and innovation in rolling stock technology; and action from the wider value chain.
Internally, SWR will conduct rigorous cost-benefit analysis that will outline what technologies will be selected.
The company will target “quick wins” as a first step, including retrofitting buildings, installing more LEDs, expanding the use of electric vehicles (EVs), reducing the use of gas, and switching from diesel to more sustainable fuel sources.
SWR has already delivered a 21% reduction in the energy consumption of its properties, following the installation of more than 16,000 LED light fittings across its properties.
Between 2015 and 2020, the equivalent of 1,164 tonnes of carbon emissions has been avoided, as a result of the retrofit. Lights have also been replaced in car parks, footways, cycleways and footbridges that fall within SWR’s lease.
SWR has also confirmed that it will encourage other sustainable transport modes to and from its stations, by increasing cycle storage and EV charging points.
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