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Network Rail Sets Benchmark For Suppliers to go Green: How Have They Responded?

3 min

After Network rail announced half of its suppliers have committed to reducing their carbon emissions, Quadrant Transport looks at how they’ve achieved this and what effects it’ll have on the sector.

Within Network Rail’s Commercial and Procurement (C&P) team there has been talks and debate on how they can make the supply chain and suppliers more environmentally friendly.

After deliberation, Network Rail has finally reached a milestone of great significance. Partnering with their suppliers they have secured commitments to tackle climate change. Nearly 50 per cent of suppliers have joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) with the other half expected to join them in the future.

This is a significant milestone because of all the emissions generated from Network Rail, 97 per cent comes from ‘scope three.’ This means most of their emissions come from third parties which include suppliers.

Ambitious targets aim to get 75% of the supply chain behind climate targets within the next 4 years

Building forwards from this Network Rail have set out an Environmental Sustainability Strategy which aims to get 75 per cent of suppliers working on their science-based targets by 2025.

Science-based targets are independently verified plans to help decarbonise the rail sector. It is a key part of trying to limit global warming to 1.5C from a UK transport perspective. Additionally, Network Rail became the first railway infrastructure body in the world to adopt this method.

Source: Network Rail

Quadrant Transport heard from Chief Executive of Network Rail, Andrew Haines: “Rail is already the cleanest and greenest mode of transporting large numbers of people and goods, but we’re committed to cutting our carbon footprint even further.”

Many of our suppliers are already making great strides to this end which we can learn from.

Continuing, he said: “That’s why we’ve set carbon reduction targets backed by science rather than simply ones we think are easy to achieve. We are the first railway in the world to set targets that will help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and this shows our commitment to change.”

Network Rail leading by example with renewable power

Network Rail is already making progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. All the energy used to power its stations, depots and offices comes from renewable sources.

Around two-thirds of the railway’s emissions are generated by suppliers, so as well as working on elements within its control, the organisation is keen to work with its wider supply chain, such as manufacturing and construction companies, to help them to set their targets.

Collaborating with them to find creative engineering solutions and clever ways to reduce the energy we consume, for example, is key to delivering these targets

Quadrant Transport also heard from Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s safety, technical and engineering director. He said: “Most of our carbon emissions come from our supply chain, so we need to give our suppliers confidence that we are serious about this and must make the changes needed to meet these challenging targets.”

It is essential that industry leaders such as Network Rail set the bar for the supply chain to follow. Without this guidance, there will be no incentive for the supply chain to change and adapt to meet climate change targets.