The blueprint for a greener future

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The launch of the Sustainable Rail Blueprint in 2023 was a milestone in GB’s journey towards a greener future.

The Blueprint is the first of its kind for rail. It outlines a long-term vision for the industry, detailing:

  • emissions reduction
  • environmental conservation
  • social sustainability.

The Blueprint is a product of collaboration across rail. And it’s now a central framework for organisations across the industry. Specifically, it guides them through sustainability projects and developments. On a broader scale, it can help ensure a joined-up approach to achieving sustainability goals.

Since its launch, its impact has been immediate. The Blueprint is already a reference point for companies to align their sustainability strategies and refresh existing plans.

One example is the adoption of The Blueprint by Southeastern and Colas Rail. They’ve integrated its structure and goals into their own strategies. Network Rail is also aligning its environmental and social sustainability approaches with The Blueprint.

Where do we go from here?

To further embed The Blueprint, we’ve launched the Sustainability Maturity Tool (beta release). This lets businesses assess their alignment with industry’s sustainability goals. It also helps them spot areas of leadership and find gaps that need attention. 

We’re also making an e-learning course on sustainable rail. This course, free for industry colleagues, will give an introduction to sustainable rail practices. It should be ready by the end of summer 2024.

Also, we’re working on a data framework to track and report sustainability performance. This will: 

  • enable benchmarking
  • build an evidence base for rail’s sustainability credentials
  • allow for comparisons with other transport modes. 

Alongside this, the Rail Social Value Tool quantifies the societal benefits of rail. It contributes to the overall evidence base for the industry’s sustainability.

Understanding sustainability costs

Embedding The Blueprint will be challenging. Getting the necessary investment and resources remains a hurdle. But sustainability should be included in existing investment costs for infrastructure modernisation and resilience. It shouldn’t be seen as an additional expense.

Also, many sustainability goals require operational improvements, not large-scale infrastructure investment. They may include:

  • new systems
  • training
  • upskilling
  • sustainability roles. 

Rail’s commitment to sustainability is steady. But the continued use of The Blueprint will be vital on the journey towards greener future. 

Collaboration will also be key. We’ll provide members with the tools, systems, and guidance to adopt more sustainable practices efficiently. See below for some examples.

Resources you might be interested in:

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