Local air quality is recognised as a significant public health issue, with transport a major contributor to emissions. Overall rail emissions may be relatively minor, but these can be significant at a local level.
As road emissions reduce, driven by regulation, policy and technological advances, the rail industry must be pro-active to ensure air quality on the rail network is understood and managed appropriately.
Air Quality Strategic Framework
The rail industry, through RSSB, established the Air Quality Steering Group to develop a collaborative approach to understanding and mitigating air quality risks.
The resulting Air Quality Strategic Framework, published in June 2020, is based on a robust, risk-based approach to reducing air quality impacts. The framework details a series of recommendations based around three key themes:
- modelling: improving our ability to understand risks at a local level
- mitigating: ensuring appropriate and effective measures are taken to reduce emissions
- monitoring: establishing a programme to measure emissions and ensure improvements.
The industry has committed to reporting progress annually.
Air Quality Research
RSSB is also undertaking a range of projects to measure air quality on the rail network, and to gain a better understanding of rail’s contribution to pollution levels in Air Quality Management Areas and Clean Air Zones. These projects are designed to support the industry by establishing a ‘baseline’ from which improvement measures can be implemented and evaluated.