Sustainable development ‘isn’t just a vision for a green future; it can also drive out unnecessary cost and improve performance’.
This is one of the key messages coming from the rail industry’s shared approach to sustainable development in dealing with short and long term challenges.
The Rail Industry Sustainable Development Report 2011, outlines the rail industry’s shared progress on sustainable development, which has been refined and, in some cases quantified, for the first time.
A rail journey already produces far less carbon dioxide per kilometre for each passenger or tonne of freight carried.
Rail produces less than half of a car, less than a quarter of a heavy goods vehicle, and less than a third of a domestic passenger flight, and less than two per cent of a domestic freight flight’s carbon.
The report stresses rail’s well-recognised, characteristic green credentials but, rather than being a distraction from pressing economic needs, it shows that rail’s principles for sustainable development can actually provide a blueprint for reducing costs in an industry which has positive environmental features and an exciting part to play in an integrated transport system.
The report highlights the role played by rail in providing the country with a ready-made system to transport people and freight to support economic recovery, and also that there are initiatives that can lower rail’s own costs and carbon together.
The report, which has been compiled by RSSB on behalf of the industry, is being sent to all Members of Parliament and transport correspondents throughout the media, and throughout the industry itself.
Commenting on the report, RSSB chief executive and chair of the industry steering group, Len Porter said:
‘An urgent challenge for rail is to reduce cost, but sustainable development is more than an economic challenge and we must ensure that we take a more holistic view to deliver the long term benefits industry is seeking to achieve.’
He went on: ‘The rail industry knows that it is a fundamental part of the solution to a sustainable, low-carbon, integrated transport system.
‘This longer term objective will require us to deliver the growth to respond to increasing demand whilst balancing this with the need to reduce costs and carbon, to achieve a more sustainable railway.’
The Sustainable Development Steering Group, which asked RSSB to compile the report, comprises Network Rail, train and freight operating companies, rolling stock leasing companies, suppliers, as well as the Department for Transport, the Office of Rail Regulation, Transport for London, Transport Scotland and RSSB itself.