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Rail can do more to support communities and greener travel, claims new report

8 March 2018

Rail could do more to support communities, local economies and the environment, a new report has found.

Ensuring a Sustainable Rail Industry, produced by think tank Tracks which aims to promote research and discussion on key transport issues, shows that through passenger franchises, the rail industry could play a greater role in delivering sustainable development in a wide variety of policy areas.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport which established the Tracks programme, said: "A strong railway brings all kinds of good things with it. Well-run rail services help cut carbon, improve air quality, support local economies and can make stations a hub for the community. While franchise competitions are rightly judged primarily on timetabling, fleet and performance, the wider benefits from rail are significant and need to be given proper consideration.

"The franchise agreements we looked at are heavy with process objectives such as strategies and working groups, and very specific actions such as numbers of cycle racks. We need to move beyond this and think about how franchising can actively support objectives like a low carbon economy, integrated public transport, air quality targets and sustainable housing growth.

"Building sustainable development into the very fabric of franchises would help deliver better outputs and give a more meaningful picture of what the railways contribute to the country."

The report makes a number of recommendations for how franchising can improve rail’s sustainable development contribution, including:

  • Develop a Social Return On Investment (SROI) model for the rail industry
  • Establish new delivery models for station management that give more primacy to achieving social and community objectives
  • Reflect the wider benefits of good rail services in franchise bid marking
  • More active ownership of sustainable development from the Department for Transport with a focus on how rail can make a difference.


For further information please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468, alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk or Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Ensuring a Sustainable Rail Industry has been produced by Campaign for Better Transport in partnership with the Department for Transport and Alstom. Read Ensuring a Sustainable Rail Industry here.
  • Tracks is a dynamic thought leadership programme set up by Campaign for Better Transport to react to contemporary issues in the transport sector. The annual programme comprises four themes linked to current and evolving challenges.
  • Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).