As a business, we understand we have a duty of care to the environment. From our new, more environmentally friendly, Azuma trains to reducing waste in our stations and on our trains.
We know that, compared to cars and planes, train travel is the most environmentally friendly way to travel. At LNER, we aren't one for resting on our laurels. There's more that we can do and we're committed to making our business more responsible by reducing energy consumption, reducing waste and using water more efficiently. You can find out more in our responsible business report.
We consider the environmental impacts in everything we do using our ISO 14001 and 50001 certified energy and environmental management systems as a framework for identifying and managing risks and opportunities.
We are setting ourselves high standards of environmental performance, whilst being realistic about the challenges.
Energy and carbon
Our energy consumption and carbon footprint can be divided up into traction and non-traction:
Non traction refers to our stations, offices and maintenance depot. We use electricity and gas to power equipment, light, heat and cool our estate. We are in control of our energy supplies here, so we can choose to purchase renewable energy, make sure we use energy efficient equipment, install EV charge points in our car parks and develop plans to install on site renewables like solar panels.
Traction refers to our trains. This is where it gets a bit tricky, the energy our trains use is supplied to us so we don’t have much control over what type it is or where it comes from. However, the whole of the rail industry is working together to minimise our environmental impacts, so we can and will do better.
That doesn’t mean we are doing nothing, we’ve already phased out our diesel only trains and replaced them with bi-modes. This means that where there are overhead wires on our network our trains should always run on electricity which is a cleaner and less carbon intensive power source.
For the most part our carbon footprint consists of our energy consumption.
Our waste comes from all over the place, literally! Our customers, station tenants, other train operators, packaging from our on-board food and drink and even engineering waste at our depot. We work hard to try and segregate as much of this waste for recycling as possible, and work with our waste contractors to ensure that none of our recyclables or general waste goes to landfill. That means that some of our waste is incinerated to produce electricity, but that’s better than ending up in a hole in the ground.
Our water use is predominantly for domestic purposes on our stations and in our offices, with a spot of train cleaning at our Depot. Unfortunately the water pipes under our stations are pretty old and they keep springing leaks. This is our biggest challenge when it comes to our water consumption, so finding and fixing leaks is our biggest priority to cut water wastage.
Objectives and targets
Energy – we will use less energy and become more efficient where energy use is unavoidable.
Target: Reduce non traction electricity consumption by 1% year on year and gas consumption by 3.6% year on year.
Carbon – we will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045.
Target: We are developing our carbon reduction trajectory in line with a 1.5 degree scenario and will bring you our phased targets as soon as we have them.
Waste – we will reduce the total amount of waste we produce, recycle as much as possible and dispose of zero waste to landfill.
Target: Work in partnership with station stakeholders to achieve a 35% recycling rate across the business.
Water – Reduce water consumption as far as practical by introducing water efficient devices, ensuring relevant internal processes encourage water conservation and work to fix leaks where these are within our control.
Target: we’re aiming for no increase in our water consumption.
What we've done
A brief outline of what we've done to become a more environmentally friendly company.
- Zero waste to landfill- In June 2019 we received external validation that all of the standard operational waste that is directly within our control is diverted from landfill.
- Replaced bin signs – We replaced bins signs using the Recycle Now waste icons to help drive a consistent clear message across our stations with other public areas.
- Coffee cups – We have set up disposable cup recycling at York, Doncaster and Wakefield stations.
- Sorting hub – We set up a waste sorting hub at Newcastle station to improve the segregation rate to help reduce the environmental impact of the waste generated by the business, our customers, tenants and other train operators using our waste facility.
- Reusable cups on-board – Customers can bring their own reusable cups with them when they travel with us and receive a 25p discount on hot drinks. So far we’ve prevented the use of over 22,000 disposable cups on our trains. Due to COVID-19 we have put this scheme on hold.
- Issued reusable cups – We issued reusable cups to our onboard and station colleagues to eliminate the need for staff single use cups.
- Taken diesel-powered HSTs out of service– Our last HST retired from service in December 2019. Phasing out these trains has reduced the volume of diesel fuel we use by 9 million litres (between 2018/19 and 2019/20.
- Efficient lighting– Replaced 90% of the lighting at Depot with efficient LED
- Lighting update – We installed a designer state of the art efficient lighting system at Doncaster in the concourse which automatically controls the lighting levels depending on light and occupancy levels.
- Inflatable doors- We installed inflatable doors on the maintenance shed at our Aberdeen maintenance depot to help keep the heat in and reduce energy use
- Energy surveys – in 2021 an external energy efficiency review was completed to help identify opportunities to reduce our energy and carbon footprints.
- Renewable energy – We successfully procured renewable energy for our managed locations in 2020.
What we’re doing
- Water refill- Keeping hydrated whilst waiting for your train is really important. Whilst we recycle 26% of all of our waste at stations (2020/21), including plastic bottles, there's one thing we can do to reduce that overall waste. Many of you prefer to carry reusable water bottles to reduce your personal impact on the planet.
To show you that we support your decision, we're putting water bottle refill points in our stations, so you can fill up whilst you wait. We already have refill points at 9 of our stations with the final 2 at York and Newcastle to be completed next.
- Coffee cups- Every year 2.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away. We already offer an incentive on our trains by offering 25p off drinks when you use a reusable cup (currently on hold due to Covid). If you do have to use a disposable cup, you can reduce your impact on the planet by recycling it in one of our new disposable cup recycling points at York, Doncaster or Wakefield.
This project will continue to roll out as new regional schemes come online in our local areas. Every coffee cup you recycle is one more that’s recycled into something new which helps reduce the environmental footprint.
- Sorting hubs – We plan to implement additional waste sorting hubs at strategic locations to enable improved segregation of station and onboard waste.
- Waste contract – We had some changes in our waste contract in 2021, we plan to have our Zero Waste to Landfill status re-audited.
- LED lighting upgrades – In addition to our ongoing maintenance which sees the replacement of old lighting to efficient LED, we have a project to replace the remaining external non-LED lighting underway.
- On site renewables– we’ve just started looking at the opportunities and feasibility of installing solar panels at our stations.
- Ditching diesel– Some of our Azuma fleet are diesel-electric bi-modes, which is great, but we want to do better. The burning of fossil fuels is the main contributor to climate change, so we want to stop using diesel fuel in our trains. We are investigating phasing out the diesel generator units and replacing them with battery storage to power our trains where there is no overhead wire. This won’t be a quick solution, but we are committed to looking to the future and investing in our low carbon journey.
- Air quality – We have joined a national air quality monitoring network scheme being implemented by the RSSB. Many of our stations will participate in this long-term study which will help identify an air quality baseline at our locations.