A Q&A with the Environment team

Last updated: Thursday, 3 June 2021

As we gear up to celebrate World Environment Day on Saturday 5 June, we chatted to Mo from our Environment team to find out more about what he does on a day to day basis.

The railway inevitably makes an impact on the environment, so it’s important that as a business ScotRail does all it can to minimise any negative impacts.

Muhammad Sarvar
We spoke with Muhammad Sarvar, our Sustainability Performance Manager, to find out what his role involves.

What does the Environment team do?

We’re a small team of four with important targets to meet, as we work to decarbonise Scotland’s Railway by 2035.

Some of the big things we’re working on at the moment include:

  • Improving traction (the energy used to power trains) and non-traction (the energy we use for everything else) energy performance and reducing the carbon impact of our activities
  • Increasing the amount of waste we recycle as a business, and reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill
  • Delivering biodiversity improvements across Scotland including in our stations and depots
  • Managing environmental impacts on the business and investigating and mitigating environmental risks and incidents
  • Developing and launching the Sustainability Hub to explain to staff and customers our activities and aspirations

With everything we do, we have to make sure that we’re always maintaining our business accreditation to ISO 14001 and ISO 50001. We’re certainly never short of work to keep us busy!

As well as working with our ScotRail colleagues, we also work closely with our partners in Network Rail and Transport Scotland to help drive improvements in governance and sustainability performance across Scotland’s Railway.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Like with most roles in the railway, there’s no such thing as a typical day with every day bringing new and interesting challenges.

My key focus areas are around the Driver Advisory System (DAS). DAS provides advice to drivers on eco driving, such as to coast or reduce speed which reduces energy, as well as providing critical safety advice on the next stop and car formation.

Another key area I am looking at is to improve our data management of EC4T (Electricity Charge for Traction) billing using Business Intelligence tools. This leads to us being able to investigate and monitor fleet efficiency and our energy usage which will allow us to identify improvement opportunities and better understand our energy demand and efficiency by fleet and routes.

Traction energy makes up the majority of our carbon footprint so improvements in this area will help make a positive impact on the decarbonisation agenda. We have developed challenging targets for reducing our carbon emissions with Transport Scotland, so we’re always looking for improvement opportunities in our energy performance and innovative projects that will help drive these emissions down.

What’s been your favourite project to work on?

Driver Advisory System screen
DAS was definitely the most interesting! Implementing this project involved mapping out routes, testing fleet, and then engaging with the drivers to guide them through how DAS works. As someone new to the business at the time, it was quite a challenging and rewarding experience to be involved in.

What’s been your biggest achievement while at ScotRail?

It would have to be the implementation of BI (Business Intelligence) for EC4T as there was no process in place before to analyse and understand the data. The development of the BI data not only helps ensures the EC4T data and billing is correct, but also opens up new opportunities to use the data in other areas of the business too.

How did you come to join the ScotRail Environment team?

I started out as intern at ScotRail, where my core responsibility was the implementation of DAS. At the end of my internship I left ScotRail to join Hitachi Rail and was working through their engineering graduate scheme when an opportunity came up to rejoin ScotRail as the Sustainability Performance Manager. And here I am, still enjoying the role nearly three years later.

What exciting projects have you got in the pipeline for the rest of 2021?

EcoClean Environment
There are lots of exciting projects in the pipeline, which will keep myself and the team busy for the forseeable future. Some of my projects include developing the BI dashboards for EC4T, Energy X and DAS to continue driving efficiency and energy savings, and provide additional data to other areas of business.

I’ll also be working on the implementation and tracking of EcoClean fuel additive which helps improve diesel economy. It’s projected that the use of the additive will deliver a 3% reduction in our diesel usage with further savings in CO2e, methane and nitrous oxides. We have seen our activities influence a significant reduction in our carbon footprint over the last few years and I am excited to see how EcoClean further benefits us.

If someone reading this fancied joining the Environment team, what advice would you give them?

It’s a very interesting team to work in. Sustainability and decarbonisation are very important agendas that attract worldwide attention, and will continue to be at the forefront of developing Scotland’s Railway. It’s exciting to be part of a team that is influencing ScotRail’s decarbonisation agenda and making us a more sustainable business.

Interested in finding out more about Sustainability?
Visit the Sustainability Hub