Rail Sustainable Development Principles

The railway is a sustainable, integrated transport system. It is effective, efficient and environmentally friendly. The railway helps passengers to access jobs, services, friends and family; it reduces congestion and transports goods. As expectations are changing, the rail industry cannot be complacent.

The Rail Sustainable Development Principles, developed by the industry, for the industry, set out a strategic vision. The Principles define what sustainable development means for the railway. They have been developed within the Sustainable Rail Programme with significant input from its stakeholders and endorsed by the cross-industry Sustainable Development Steering Group.

The principles represent the core values of the rail industry and are fundamental in delivering a sustainable railway. A railway that is at the centre of the transport system, that meets the travel needs of society without compromising future quality of life. In this second issue, the principles have been brought up to date, to reflect the changing knowledge and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development for the rail industry.

The purpose of the principles is to inform and become an integral part of the industry’s culture, policy, and decision making processes. They take account of whole-system and whole-life-cycle approaches to drive greater efficiency and better delivery. It is the responsibility of all rail industry organisations to adopt and implement these principles.

The principles

  • Customer-driven - Embed a culture where dialogue with customers puts them at the very heart of the railway, and where they are able to make optimal travel and logistics choices.
  • Putting rail in reach of people - Position rail as an inclusive, affordable and accessible transport system through the provision of information and accessible facilities.
  • Providing an end to end journey - Work together with all transport modes to provide an integrated, accessible transport system.
  • Being an employer of choice - Respect, encourage and develop a diverse workforce, support its wellbeing and actively consider and address the challenges of the future labour market.
  • Reducing our environmental impact - Operate and improve the business in a way that minimises the negative impacts and maximises the benefits of the railway to the environment.
  • Carbon smart - Achieve long-term reductions in carbon emissions through improved energy efficiency, new power sources and modal shift.
  • Having a positive social impact - Focus on local impacts and communities through better understanding and engagement.
  • Supporting the economy - Boost the productivity and competitiveness of the UK, at a national and regional level, through efficient services and by facilitating agglomeration and catalysing economic regeneration.
  • Optimising the railway - Maximise rail’s capability, build on its strengths and improve efficiency to deliver a transport system that is resilient and offers good value for money.
  • Being transparent - Promote a culture of open and accountable decision making and measure, monitor and report publicly on our progress toward sustainability.
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