BREEAM Infrastructure is supporting rail’s sustainability goals


The railway system in Great Britain is the oldest railway system in the world, with the first locomotive-hauled public railway opening in 1825. Network Rail has set out an ambitious 30 year strategy for delivering a sustainable railway that puts passengers first and supports local communities in both the north and south of England. The company’s vision is to serve the nation with the cleanest, greenest mass transport, and they have four core priorities to deliver it needing Government backing and local authority support:

  • A low-emission railway.
  • A reliable railway service that is resilient to climate change.
  • Helping plants and wildlife flourish.
  • Recycling and reusing everything.

However, delivering this vision is a complex challenge that requires both a comprehensive and integrated approach to sustainable rail management. To achieve these priorities, Network Rail needs to embrace new approaches and frameworks that promote sustainable rail development and maintenance.

BREEAM Infrastructure has a global proven credit rating to help partner organisations achieve ambitious goals and innovate through collaboration. It provides a robust framework that assesses a wide range of sustainability issues to manage programme of works and promotes environmental stewardship, supporting wider sustainable development goals including social value. The scheme is embedded in a number of the current high profile rail schemes connecting north and south.

By using BREEAM Infrastructure Term Contracts, rail professionals can demonstrate their commitment to carbon reduction that goes beyond current industry standards, delivering a sustainable railway that serves the nation with the cleanest, greenest mass transport.

Case Studies of BREEAM Infrastructure Assessments
Spanning three Boroughs, the London Bridge Railway Systems project demonstrated a comprehensive approach to sustainable rail management, achieving sustainability targets by reducing environmental impacts, saving on materials and embodied carbon, and as a result benefiting local communities. BREEAM Infrastructure Term Contracts provided criteria to achieve the strategic aims for sustainable rail management and deliver the wider development goals.

The Thameslink Programme’s London Bridge Railway Systems project included track, signalling, and civil works. Sustainability was a key driver, with contractors tracking progress against Thameslink Sustainability Strategy targets, capturing best practices and lessons learnt to share with the wider rail industry.

In Worcestershire the Parkway Regional Interchange project was designed to provide the wider South Midland’s area direct rail access to people and reduce car usage on the strategic highway network by 6 million kilometres per annum by 2031. The new station addresses the increasing demand for rail services to and from Worcestershire, contributing to the growth of the local economy and improving access to the rail network.

BREEAM Infrastructure enables the project teams to focus on managing the delivery of the scheme, protecting the local environment, efficiently using resources, and supporting the local communities.

The Infrastructure Assessment enabled the project to demonstrate best practices in retained and enhanced biodiversity, site waste management efficiency, reduced import and export of site materials, reuse of reclaimed oil pipes for piled foundations, flood risk management, and sustainable drainage.

Finally, Crossrail assessments included the West Stations Project, to accommodate the new Elizabeth Line trains, modifying 13 existing stations along the Great Western Railway network from Acton Main Line to Maidenhead station. The Project Team received an Excellent assessment rating for implementing sustainability throughout the project. Their initiatives were innovative, including noise reduction and community engagement exceeding contractual requirements. The project team also received further recognition through the Great Western Rail and Crossrail Sustainability award and the Green Apple award.

The Eleanor Street and Mile End Road Shafts project was part of the larger Crossrail initiative that involved building a new railway for London and the Southeast. The project faced challenges, such as the need to mitigate noise and the impact on local communities. The Biodiversity module was a success, with the project team implementing sustainable practices such as creating wildflower meadows, green roofs, and planting trees. They also managed resources efficiently by recycling and reusing materials, leading to a positive impact on energy, water, materials, and waste.

The BREEAM Infrastructure scheme can improve Network Rail’s operational efficiency and promote environmental stewardship through a comprehensive and collaborative approach to sustainable rail management, as committed to by many projects in Scandinavia. The criteria in the V6 Manuals encourage considering wider aspects of sustainability to create a railway that prioritises clean and green mass transport, whether through inclusive economic growth, carbon reductions or building resilient and sustainable communities. It is a crucial time to embrace new solutions and challenge current thinking to create a railway industry with a sustainable and affordable future.

The scheme started its life as CEEQUAL (the Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment) and was created to award and drive improvements in the environmental impact and quality of civil engineering. In 2015, it was acquired by BRE and rebranded into the BREEAM suite of schemes, to demonstrate the holistic approach to sustainability across different sectors and asset life cycle stages. The methodology uses two technical manuals BREEAM Infrastructure Projects V6 and BREEAM Infrastructure Term Contracts V6. The rebrand brings infrastructure into the BREEAM suite of schemes, further expanding the BREEAM approach to sustainability and reduced carbon footprint.

If you are interested in learning more about BREEAM Infrastructure and how it can benefit your rail projects, please don’t hesitate to contact Melanie Manton or Billal Din. The team of experts is here to provide a scheme that drives your sustainable rail management goals.