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New social value measurement tool launches for rail industry

Social value is becoming an increasingly important consideration in our investments, infrastructure projects and day-to-day operations. Now, to assist the rail industry in measure their social value impacts, a new online tool has been released.

The Rail Social Value Tool (RSVT) was co-funded by Network Rail and delivered by the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB) and Loop (formerly the Social Value Calculator).

Using the RSVT, rail organisations will be able to forecast, monitor and evaluate the social value of their activities.

This includes measuring the impacts on the welfare and wellbeing of individuals and wider society, and the net positive (or negative) value socially, economically or fiscally of any particular project, organisation or specific initiative.

Organised across 12 social impacts, the RSVT takes into consideration 500 indicators. This allows the new online tool to measure and monetise a wide range of benefits. These include:

  • Improving safety
  • Creating jobs, employing apprentices and providing training
  • Changing air quality
  • Increasing biodiversity, protecting and boosting plant and animal life, and planting trees
  • Enriching the curriculum to support young people
  • Designing features which will make rail travel more accessible and inclusive
  • Employee and community volunteering
  • Co-designing infrastructure and services with communities

Since November 2021, the RSVT has been undergoing extensive testing by early adopters, including Network Rail and select companies from within its supply chain.

Liz Holford, Network Rail’s Sustainability Strategy manager (Social Performance) said: “The launch of the Rail Social Value Tool is an important milestone which enables our industry to make a step-change in how we understand and manage our impacts on people.

“We’re already using the tool to forecast and maximise the social value of station redevelopments and infrastructure enhancements as well as current projects and some completed ones, and we’re looking forward to using it further to manage and improve the impact our railway has on society.”

George Davies, RSSB’s Director for Sustainable Development said: “It’s fantastic to see the Rail Social Value Tool launched today. It’s a first for the rail industry, and I would like to thank everyone involved in its development.

“Rail is one of the most sustainable forms of transport. However, until now, we haven’t been able to measure its social value in sufficient detail.

“We can now assess, and importantly place a financial value on the effect the railway has in a number of areas including the natural environment, communities, people and their health, cultural heritage, housing, inclusivity, and distribution of opportunities.

“As we transform the Railway and deliver the vision of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, the Rail Social Value Tool will guide decisions on rail development across the country to ensure the best return on those investments for society.”

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