UK’s largest train operator sets out roadmap to eradicate carbon footprint

Initiatives include UK rail’s first cooperative solar energy project that generates power for Southern Rail and income for community development

Environment experts at the UK’s largest train operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), have launched a roadmap of how they're doubling down on emissions to become carbon ‘net zero’ for all its energy needs by 2050.

GTR’s carbon footprint is already very small: electric trains are the most sustainable form of public transport and are used on more than 97% of GTR’s services. Most trains also regenerate energy when they brake and all the electricity supplied by Network Rail to power them already comes from a clean source.

The Net Zero Strategy [download here] aims to eradicate that footprint altogether by:

  • working with Network Rail and government to replace what few diesel trains are in use, possibly by electrifying the last two sections of Southern Rail track or introducing battery-powered units
  • replacing gas with air or ground source heat pumps or equivalent as a source of heating at train depots
  • generating energy from more than 6,000 solar panels being installed on the rooftops of train depots in Bedford, London and Sussex in a partnership with not-for-profit Community Benefit Society Energy Garden (see case study below)
  • changing air conditioning systems to limit the damaging impact caused by any loss of refrigerant into the atmosphere
  • replacing fossil fuel equipment with zero carbon systems when it needs replacing, if not sooner
  • continuing to source certified renewable electricity for its offices, depots and stations
  • installing smart meters

Jason Brooker, Head of Environment at GTR, said: “We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and everyone has a job to do to minimise their carbon footprint.

“Our electric trains are already the most sustainable way to get around on public transport but as the UK’s largest operator, we want our customers to know that we’re committed to doing even more.

“This raft of initiatives will cut our carbon footprint still further in the short to medium term and in the long-term help eradicate it altogether.”

Case study: Click here to read about the first cooperative solar energy project on the UK rail network at Streatham Hill Train Depot and to download pictures

Delivered in partnership with not-for-profit Community Benefit Society Energy Garden, the 576 panels generate local sources of renewable energy and funding for community development projects. funds community gardening schemes and a vital education programme for youngsters from deprived London boroughs.

And click here to read about the latest project at Bedford.


Related news

GDBA 2024 image