How travelling by train can impact an organisation’s sustainability report

Last updated: Thursday 26 November 2020

The way business travel is conducted and how employees travel to and from work everyday can have a profound effect on an organisation’s carbon emissions.

All travel undertaken for the purpose of work contributes to the impact the organisation makes on the environment.

When choosing how to travel, different elements play a part in the choice. For employees choosing how to get to and from work, cost and time are usually the two biggest influencers. The impact their choice makes on the environment may not be at the forefront of their mind. That’s where organisations can play their part by educating and supporting employees to make more sustainable travel choices. For businesses choosing how to undertake business travel, the impact it leaves on the environment should be the biggest influencer in deciding which mode of transport to use.

How to influence your employees to make sustainable travel choices

To influence and support your employees to make sustainable travel choices, ScotRail’s Business Travel Team can help to outline why one person choosing to travel by train can make a big difference. This not only impacts their own individual carbon emissions but contributes to their employers’ too. ScotRail developed their own carbon calculator to show the amount of carbon emissions saved when a journey is made by an electric train as opposed to a single occupancy car journey. Around 75% of all passenger journeys with ScotRail are undertaken on electric trains. By making this small switch, the potential for carbon savings is huge.

The images below show how much carbon can be saved when you swap the car for the train for a journey between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street:

Edinburgh to Glasgow Carbon emissions

These stats are derived from the DEFRA CO2e emissions factor for electric trains versus an average sized petrol car.

For a lot of people, being able to visually see what impact they are making on the environment with their commuting choice can leave a lasting impression that influences better decisions in the future. To encourage employees to use the train, the Business Travel Team can work with organisations to set up annual pass schemes to make train travel more appealing and affordable for employees. The team can also help to create and implement a sustainable travel policy for all employees to follow for both commuting and business travel.

How can choosing the train make a big impact?

When an organisation and its employees choose to travel with ScotRail they’re choosing to support an organisation that is constantly working hard to reduce their impact on the environment. This in turn, helps an organisation to reduce their own carbon emissions. Since 2015, ScotRail has reduced the amount of CO2 emitted by their trains by over 35% due to their ongoing drive to reduce energy and their impact on the environment. The electrification of the Edinburgh to Glasgow route played a big part by reducing emissions by 60%. The Class 385 trains now operating this route are much more environmentally friendly than the diesel trains they replaced. By investing in Scotland’s Railway for commuting and business travel, organisations are contributing to these advancements and improvements.

In Content - Class 385

Choosing the railway helps our environment in other ways

Not only does swapping from a car to a train help with emissions, it makes a positive impact on air quality, particularly within our city centres. Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh are home to some of the most polluted streets in Scotland so getting cars out of these centres is important.

Not all employees will live close to a train station so ScotRail is always working to improve sustainable travel facilities at stations such as electric vehicle charging, bike storage and, at some stations around Glasgow, nextbike hire. Over 50 stations on the ScotRail network have spaces for electric vehicle charging, and Scotland’s newest station, Kintore, is home to the North East’s largest electric vehicle charging port.

It’s not just advancements in trains that make an impact

Scotland’s rail network is vast and takes a lot to keep it running smoothly. Stations, depots, offices, platforms and even what goes into the bins all makes an impact. Over the past few years these are a few of the areas where improvements have been made to reduce ScotRail’s carbon footprint:

  • Reduced its own total carbon footprint by 7,800 tonnes of CO2.
  • Installed LED lighting on all key Edinburgh to Glasgow route stations.
  • Invested in installing the Driver Advisory System to all new trains, which helps reduce energy usage by 5%.
  • Diverted 94% of waste, by tonnage, from landfill.
  • Invested £50,000 in upgrading customer recycling facilities.
  • Improved biodiversity at stations and depots through native planting and reduced mowing – recognised by numerous awards.

This all then has a positive knock on affect for rail users and their individual carbon emissions.

Business travel in the future

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that train travel currently looks very different to how it did a year ago. Far fewer people are travelling for work with most people still working from home. But Scotland’s Railway is open and always will be to transport people that need to travel by train. In the future, the railway will be ready to take people back to offices and to travel for business and pleasure when it’s safe to do so.

By using ScotRail Business Travel you can work with a team to create a sustainable, safe travel policy that your organisation can shout about. This will be valuable to how your organisation is perceived in being environmentally conscious. All of the small steps you take can make a big impact together.

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