5 things you should know about our Sustainability work

Last updated: Wednesday, 28 September 2022

To celebrate COP26 taking place in Glasgow between 31 October and 13 November 2021, we’ve taken a look at five of the things we do to minimise our impact on the environment.

From the innovative ways we’re working to improve our trains, to how our people can make a positive impact in their communities, there’s a lot that we can all do to make a difference.

Here are just a few things you may not know about the environmental work we do:

Supporting Biodiversity

Nature has a place in all our towns, cities and local communities. It’s something that a lot of us have taken solace in during the difficult times over the past year. And not only does being out in nature benefit our mental health, it benefits our local wildlife too.

Our stations and depots are all key places that can support local biodiversity. You’ve perhaps noticed some of our stations have lovely floral displays thanks to our Adopt a Station volunteers and our continued partnership with environmental charity ‘The Conservation Volunteers’ who we work alongside on projects in stations and depots. The floral displays in our stations, and the wildflower meadows, ponds and orchards planted across our depots are designed to encourage wildlife.

We have a Biodiversity Fund in place so that every year we must invest £40,000 on biodiversity improvement and research across Scotland. We’ve funded projects all over the country, which have offered learning and development opportunities to local communities, including school children, the long term unemployed and vulnerable individuals.

Flower planters at Aberdour station

Thinking about what we use

Have you ever heard of circular economy ? This is where products are designed to maximise their value and minimise waste. We’re always trying to do this at ScotRail by using and promoting products that are robust and can be reused and recycled. There are lots of easy changes we can all make that help to make a difference. Simple things like recycling what we can and choosing items that don’t have a single use, like plastic bottles. Over the past few years, we’ve added more recycling facilities to our stations to try and make it as easy as possible for both passengers and staff to recycle what they can. Just this small act can make such a difference to our environment.

Recycling bins at Glasgow Central station

Immersing ourselves in community

If you watch Countryfile, you may have seen Rutherglen and the area surrounding the station featured in the episode shown on Sunday 23 May 2021. This is just one of the areas in Scotland where we work alongside community groups to help enhance local areas. Just outside Rutherglen station is an eye-catching mural which was created by Rail73 in partnership with Grow 73 to celebrate the town’s history. It certainly makes the entrance to the station a much brighter place.

There are nine Community Rail Partnerships (CRP) across Scotland, including Rail74, who we work in partnership to maximise the benefits of the railway to the local community. If you would like to get involved with a CRP have a read here .

Rail74 mural at Rutherglen station

Being innovators

People all over the world are always looking for ways to improve how our everyday lives impact the environment. And we’re no different. Every year ScotRail is committed to spending £100,000 through our Sustainability Innovations Fund to fund research and develop innovative solutions to improve the sustainability performance of Scotland’s Railway.

Even just changing a lightbulb can make a big difference. And that’s exactly what we did at Exhibition Centre station in Glasgow. We switched all of the lighting in the station to LEDs that could be controlled individually using an app. By making this switch we’ll reduce the energy usage at this station by at least 50%. Wasn’t that a bright idea!

LED lighting poster at Exhibition Centre station

Helping to lower our carbon emissions

Decarbonisation and net zero have been talked about a lot in the news recently. There’s a real push to make the UK as carbon neutral as possible. The railway is no different. We’re committed to making Scotland’s passenger rail services fully decarbonised by 2035, in line with the Scottish Government’s targets.

Of course, not all of Scotland’s Railway can run using electric trains. So, where electricity can’t be used, zero emissions trains will operate instead of the diesel trains that run at the moment. But it’s not just on the tracks that we can support the reduction in carbon emissions. We can all play a part in reducing our own carbon footprint through small acts like leaving the car at home and walking or cycling instead if it’s possible, and choosing the train over driving into our city centres. For customers with electric vehicles, you’ll find charging points - which are free to use - at 56 of our stations.

Fancy finding out more about the work we do to help make Scotland’s Railway as sustainable as possible?
Visit the Sustainability Hub