Rail is one of the most carbon efficient modes of transport, but there is always more that we can do to reduce our footprint and the energy we use to power our trains, stations and depots.
One of the key benefits to choosing the train is the significant carbon savings that can be made versus choosing another mode of transport, such as a single occupancy car. Rail is already the most sustainable mode of public transport, contributing only 1% of Scotland’s overall transport carbon emissions. We want to reduce this further and have invested more than £1million over the last few years in energy efficient technology to reduce demand at our stations, depots and offices.
The last few years have seen huge improvements in the reduction of carbon emissions around Scotland’s central belt. The electrification of the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line was completed which has reduced carbon emissions on the route by 60%. The Class 385 electric trains are faster, longer, quieter and more environmentally friendly than the diesel trains that they replaced.
Overall, in 2021 we reduced our carbon footprint by 7,721 tonnes which is on top of savings of over 46,000 tonnes of CO2e between 2018 and 2020. Covid-19 continues to have an impact with an amended timetable in place, however energy reduction initiatives put in place over the year contributed to the downward trend.
All of our diesel trains are now using a fuel additive which is helping to reduce our diesel usage by 3%. This improves engine efficiency, saving up to 4,000 tonnes of carbon annually.
The energy used to power trains is our single biggest source of rail carbon emissions.
Between 2014 and 2019 Scotland’s Railway electrified 325km of the country’s central railway network. This investment supported the introduction of a new £370m fleet of 70 faster, greener, modern Class 385 electric trains, with more capacity for customers. Over 75% of ScotRail journeys are made on an electric train which is great news for the environment.
We are working with Transport Scotland and Network Rail to trial new traction technologies, as we move away from diesel trains to low carbon traction technology such as bi-mode trains, battery trains and hydrogen trains.
We have stringent targets in place to ensure that we’re always working towards reducing our traction related emissions and lessening our impact on the environment.
To support this process, we have a Decarbonisation Steering Group and are focussing on a number of initiatives to reduce energy such as introducing Driver Advisory System (DAS) to our HST Fleet. You can find more information about this under the next heading.
Driver Advisory System (DAS)
ScotRail has more Driver Advisory System (DAS) units than any other train operator in the UK.
The Driver Advisory System (DAS) is a system which helps drivers optimise their driving in order to save energy whilst improving operational performance. DAS uses a variety of timetable, track and train information to calculate the optimum speeds to drive at in order to get from one station to another on time whilst using the least amount of energy. DAS also provides information on the car formation and station stops which helps reduce missed stations, station overshoots and stop shorts.
DAS can save around 4-6% in terms of fuel and energy consumption and is a significant part of the initiatives to achieve our targets.
Non-traction energy is all the energy we use to power our station, depots and offices and predominantly relates to lighting, power, heating and cooling.
We have invested more than £1million over the last few years on energy saving initiatives such as LED and Intelligent LED lighting, energy management systems, renewable energy technology and energy efficient boilers, as well as behavioural change programmes and good practice.
We have stringent targets in place to ensure that we’re always tracking our activities and working towards reducing our non-traction energy usage and related emissions.
We have installed technology such as:
- LED and Intelligent LED Lighting across numerous stations and depots
- Aimteq Wireless Building Energy Management System at three key engineering depots
- Circosense and upgraded boilers, CHP system at Haymarket Depot
- Wind turbines at three locations
- Solar PV at 11 locations
Plans for a Net Zero Carbon Station
In 2022 we are planning to deliver Scotland’s first Net Zero Carbon Station – this means balancing the carbon demand of the station with equivalent emissions that are either offset or delivered through renewable energy.
In 2020, we engaged Mott MacDonald to undertake an assessment to explore opportunities to drive decarbonisation and energy innovation in the station estate. The report focussed on opportunities to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions at three typical stations, alongside technology that could be trialled through the Sustainability Innovation Fund. The report and aspirations were shared with our colleagues in Transport Scotland and Network Rail. Further to the study, we intend to deliver Scotland’s first net zero carbon station 2021, focussing on renewable energy, fabric upgrades and carbon offsetting any residual energy demand.
What you can do
If you want to find out more about DAS or Traction Energy, please contact [email protected]
If you would like to find out more or comment on our energy management activities, please contact [email protected]
The team are always happy to answer questions or have a general chat about the work they do.