Our social responsibility
CSR Report

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We want to be the train operating company making the most positive contribution to environmental sustainability.

View our Environmental Sustainability Strategy (PDF 635KB)

View our Environment and Energy Policy statement 2014 (4.6MB)

Modal Shift

Row of bikes at a station

Travelling by train is a more sustainable way to get from A to B than driving alone in a private car. Rail is a low carbon mode of transport and it can and will play a key role in helping to minimise the carbon impacts of transport through modal shift.

As a business we have been trying to capitalise on rail’s inherent environmental advantages over car travel by demonstrating that we can offer a complete package that will appeal to the travelling public. We have worked hard to help make the door-to-door journey as seamless as possible, and have been working to ensure that rail is a key part of any integrated transport offer, linking to bus services and improving our cycling facilities.

Pollution prevention

2 trains in a maintenance depot

Our goals are to minimise and control pollution and nuisance from our operations and to actively seek alternative solutions to reduce emission levels. We control and manage pollution through a corporate Environmental Management System, certified to ISO14001 which targets our high risk locations and activities. We are aware of the environmental risks posed by both the maintenance and operation of our trains and these sites and activities are regularly audited.

Resource conservation

Engineer working on a train

We have been working hard to minimise our use of resources, be they utilities, goods or services, and have been actively working to redirect waste for disposal in landfill. We now have an Energy Management System that is an integral part of our Environmental Management System, and is certified to ISO50001. We have undertaken a number of schemes to reduce energy consumption, including lighting refurbishments and energy efficient driving techniques, and we are looking at ways in which we can generate energy on site. Disposal of waste is always an issue for customers and employees, so by improving our activities behind the scenes and in some cases through improved facilities we have improved our recycling rates at stations.

Carbon reduction

Train getting filled with fuel

We know that we need to reduce the amount of carbon we produce, to contribute both to a low carbon economy and to ensure rail maintains its status as a low carbon mode of transport. We have been measuring our complete carbon footprint (GHG scope 1-3 emissions) since 2007 and have seen a year on year reduction. This is due to our reductions in consumption of utilities such as gas-oil (for traction) and gas and where we have spent money in our procurement.

Sustainable infrastructure

Accrington Ecostation external photo

Stations are the gateways to their communities, and we want to improve them wherever we can to ensure the facilities offer the best value to customers and employees who work there. We aim to ensure that all refurbishments offer better quality for our customers and at the same time are undertaken with sustainability, specifically energy conservation in mind. We have our own model eco-station concept, the first of which is Maryport in West Cumbria. New stations are not built by us, but we can have an input for example Accrington ecostation.


Northern Rail train in the countryside

As a business we have limited impact on biodiversity as we do not manage large areas of land. All railway land is owned and managed by Network Rail, with the exception of the stations and depots which we manage. However, we are committed to working with all our partners, including Network Rail and community groups to improve the value of any spare land under our lease, and have worked with environmental and conservation charities to improve what we have.

Environmental case studies

Leeds Cyclepoint

Leeds Cyclepoint - a new way of continuing the journey

NorthernRail developed and opened a CyclePoint facility,adjacent to Leeds railways station in 2010. CyclePoint is based on a proven Dutch concept which combines staffed and secure cycle storage with retail, repair and hire facilities at major stations.

It provides customers with an option to continue their journey but also gives Leeds residents and commuters access to a high-quality rental and retail facility. Leeds was chosen because it is our busiest station, with over 110,000 people travelling on an average weekday.

Young environmentalists

Young environmentalists work to increase recycling

Northern Rail worked with environmental charity Urban Mines and Temple Primary School in Cheetham Hill, Manchester on a recycling project, using Manchester Victoria as the focus. The pupils surveyed passengers about recycling and studied our disposal practice, both on and off train. In partnership with Metro Newspapers we installed recycling bins at the station and they were launched in January 2010.

Accrington Eco Station

Accrington Eco Station

Lancashire County Council opened a new station at Accrington, operated by Northern Rail in 2010. The new ecostation was constructed using, where possible, locally sourced materials including recycled stone and materials that can be recycled if the building is dismantled in the future (cradle to cradle). It was designed to fit in with the town centre conservation area while retaining the station�s heritage character, and has since won a number of awards.

More bikes on their way

More bikes on their way

We successfully bid for funding to introduce the 'PlusBike' concept to 12 stations across the Leeds area. PlusBike will be a national bike hire scheme similar to that operating in over 200 stations across Holland. By focussing on onward journeys it will encourage rail users to continue their journey in a more environmentally friendly way. Lots of our customers are already benefiting from the near-completion of our £1m Bike and Ride programme.

Education isn't a waste!

Education isn't a waste!

We worked with the charity Urban Mines to develop a project with Low Moor Primary School in Bradford. Pupils from Year 4 visited Bradford Interchange to learn how important it is to separate waste and watch the processes employees follow to ensure as much as possible is recycled. Georgia Beasley, a nine-year-old pupil from the school won a competition to see her recycling-themed poster on display at Yorkshire stations.

Energy management

Energy management

We have worked hard in recent years to increase the number of smart meters and gas data loggers in place. To demonstrate our approach to energy management we were pleased to be the first TOC and one of the first companies in the UK to have our energy management system certified to ISO50001. We also signed a new energy contract in 2012 to supply us with some of our electricity needs, and what's really great is that we were on their 'green' tariff, meaning we have about 99% green energy.

Designing for the future

Designing for the future

Maryport station became a new prototype Northern eco-station and was officially reopened following a £120,000 refurbishment funded by Cumbria County Council and ourselves. Solar panels, low energy lighting and sustainable construction materials were installed to make the station more energy efficient. Further passenger improvements have been made in the car park, with the provision of disabled parking and the station environment will now be comprehensively covered by CCTV cameras to provide safety and reassurance to customers. New waiting shelters provide passengers with a dry and warmer area for waiting.

Community partnership

Community partnership

In 2011 Northern was the Corporate Partner in a pilot project funded by Defra and managed by BTCV - 'Responsible business - your business'. The premise was to work with both community groups and engage with our own employees. The stations chosen were Handforth and South Milford. Teams from Area West and Safety and Assurance worked at Handforth station on two separate occasions, preparing land for the planting of a number of community gardens. Our Procurement team cleared debris and vegetation at South Milford.

Uniform recycling

Uniform recycling

Following a redesign of our uniform, we donated more than 3,000 items of clothing to Salvation Army Trading Company Limited (SATCoL). Weighing in at over 629 kilos, the branded items were collected from our employees working across Northern's network from drivers, conductors and ticket office staff. The clothing collection scheme from SATCoL ensures the items are used in a variety of ways to get the most out of each item.

SATCoL will export the clothing where it will be reused or recycled. Profit from the sale of donations is gift-aided to The Salvation Army to help fund its work throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, including homelessness, elderly care, help at emergency incidents and much more.

Going Green

Going green on the Cumbrian Coast

Following on from the installation of a shelter at Maryport in 2011, four new passenger waiting shelters were installed at St Bees and Seascale stations in 2012. Each of the shelters has been produced using environmentally sustainable materials and they mirror the natural surroundings of the coastal community. Modelled using Iroko hardwood, the strong, very durable timber is both FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC Certified, helping reduce the environmental impact of the new structures. The investment also included the recycling of the existing shelter at Seascale which was moved on to Corkickle.