Creating a greener railway for Scotland

Last updated: Thursday, 30 April 2020

With all the talk of climate change in the news recently, it got us thinking about what we do to reduce carbon emissions and be more energy efficient.

Every single person that uses the railway is playing their part in helping to reduce carbon emissions. Train travel is among the lowest carbon modes of transport and we’re always working to make it even more efficient.

Did you know that if you make one train journey a week between Glasgow and Edinburgh, it saves over half a ton of CO2 over a year compared to driving? According to that's the equivalent of powering an A-rated washing machine for just under 10 years!

Class 385 trainNew trains, big change

One of the big factors in making Scotland’s railway more energy efficient is the electrification of the lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa. And as of May 2019, it is now complete. Woohoo!

The shiny new Class 385 trains that will run on these routes are far more energy efficient than the trains they’re replacing. On the Edinburgh to Glasgow route, the Express 385s are 60% more carbon efficient than the Class 170s that previously operated that route. Not only is that great for the environment but it means they’re a lot quieter on our ears too.

Of course, just by making sure our trains are as energy efficient as possible doesn’t make our railway ‘green’. Trains are only a part of it. It’s also about the little things that contribute to the big things.

Lighting up a brighter railway

Scotland’s railway is in operation almost 24 hours a day so that requires lots of lighting, heating, cleaning and electricity amongst other things. Even making a small change can have a big impact. Over the next year, we’ll be changing lightbulbs in a number of key stations from traditional bulbs to LEDs, which will reduce carbon and energy consumption by more than 50%.

Shut that door

Our depots are in use 24 hours a day and consume a huge amount of energy by the nature of what they’re used for. And it equates to 45% of the total energy used by ScotRail. That’s huge! We’ve looked to new technology to help us bring this down. The new system we now have in place remotely monitors and optimises energy management equipment. So, if a door is left open too long, the heating will shut off. It’s estimated that it will save nearly one million kwh annually.

Helensburgh station recycling binsRecycle on the go

Recycling plays a huge part for us too. Whether it be in offices, on the trains or around the stations. The amount of packaging some things come with is a bit on the extreme side, so if we can at least recycle most of it, it offsets the guilt a bit. We’ve obtained funding to invest in upgrading our Recycling-on-the-Go facilities in more than 50 of our stations and introduce it at a further 40 stations. This is great news for the network because when it comes to recycling, every little bit really does help. Not only for the environment but to keep the trains nice and tidy too. Look out for these refreshed facilities over the course of 2019.

Pedal, walk or charge then go

One of the big aims is to encourage people to use trains as their favoured form of transport. But we know that not everyone lives within walking distance of a station. That’s why you’ll have seen improved cycle facilities at stations and the Bike and Go schemes at 12 of our stations. You’ve probably also seen the EV charging points for electric cars which are proving to be popular.

Mix all of this in with recycling schemes, sensor operated lights and educating staff, we’re taking positive steps towards being an even more environmentally friendly company.

Want to learn more?
Visit our Environment page