Rail service improvements and disruptions


Rail must do more to support local communities, economies and environment, experts warn

The rail industry could do more to support communities, local economies and the environment, a new report has found.

The report, ‘Ensuring a sustainable rail industry,’ produced by think tank Tracks, says that the rail industry could play a greater role in the delivery of sustainable development in a wide variety of policy areas.

However, it argues that the current franchising model pose challenges to sustainable development: “The model was devised at a time of stagnant revenue and falling passenger demand with the objective of reducing net public expenditure on rail rather than delivering wider public policy objectives in the form of sustainable development.

“It is only through successive reforms that wider social, economic and environmental outcomes have been sought.”

It warns that having “only temporary custodianship of trains and stations,” without ownership of tracks, and neighbouring franchises to work with, makes long term planning and investment “problematic.”

In order for progress to be made in promoting rail’s sustainable development role, change is needed, the report says, by developing a Social Return on Investment (SROI) model for the industry and new delivery models for station management.

It also calls for the Department for Transport to take more ownership of sustainable developments a policy area, ensuring that franchise holders are making appropriate progress through devolved structures and local oversight.

Franchise bid scoring should reflect the wider benefits of good rail services, and there should be better data and guidance, the report suggests.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, which enables the Tracks programme, said: “A strong railway brings all kinds of good things with it.

“Well-run rail services help cut carbon, improve air quality, support local economies and can make stations a hub for the community.

“While franchise competitions are rightly judged primarily on timetabling, fleet and performance, the wider benefits from rail are significant and need to be given proper consideration.”

Joseph also explained that the franchise agreements Tracks looked at were heavy with process objectives such as strategies and working groups, and very specific actions such as numbers of cycle racks.

“We need to move beyond this and think about how franchising can actively support objectives like a low carbon economy, integrated public transport, air quality targets and sustainable housing growth,” he continued.

“Building sustainable development into the very fabric of franchises would help deliver better outputs and give a more meaningful picture of what the railways contribute to the country.”

Top image: Gareth Fuller PA images

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Tram passengers demand better value for money from services

21/03/2018Tram passengers demand better value for money from services

  Satisfaction with value for money for tram passengers has dropped slightly, the latest Tram Passenger Survey h... more >
West of England to get £9.45bn economic boost from new rail partnership plan

21/03/2018West of England to get £9.45bn economic boost from new rail partnership plan

Rail companies across the west of England have set out a long-term plan for the region’s railway, which will boost t... more >
First Virgin Azuma trains arrive in UK after two-month journey from Japan

21/03/2018First Virgin Azuma trains arrive in UK after two-month journey from Japan

Two brand new Hitachi trains completed their two month journey from Japan yesterday, arriving at Teesport, Middlesborough.... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

In this article biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed look at how biometric technology is already starting to enhance health and safety measures on railway construction projects. Advances in technology are starting to transform the way in which the rail network in the UK is managed, operated and maintained. There is ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Smart Ticketing: The way ahead

13/03/2018Smart Ticketing: The way ahead

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), runs through the nationwide progress in rolling out ... more >
A benchmark year for HS2

13/03/2018A benchmark year for HS2

Jim Crawford, managing director of Phase 1 at HS2 Ltd, discusses the many critical activities set to take place this year as the mammoth high-spe... more >
The North has a plan

13/03/2018The North has a plan

There has always been an incredible thirst for change in the north. Now, there is finally a plan robust and forward-thinking enough to make it ha... more >
EWR: Getting it right

13/03/2018EWR: Getting it right

Peter Austin, delivery director at East West Rail Company (EWRco), argues that completing the link between Oxford and Cambridge as quickly as pos... more >

rail industry focus

  • 08/12/2017A game changer for Midland Metro

    The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) updates RTM’s Luana Salles on the latest projects taking place across the growing Midland Metro network. The expansion of...
  • 09/11/2017Testing tomorrow's technology today

    David Brazier, site manager and area sales manager for the UK & Ireland at OMICRON electronics, tells RTM’s Luana Salles about the major testing benefits the...
  • 09/11/2017What next for safety?

    As rail businesses edge towards their target of zero injuries, improving safety performance can plateau. Amey’s sector director for rail, Lee Jones, explains how...
View all News


Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >