We are transforming our business to minimise impacts on and maximise benefits to the environment. There are a number of ways we will achieve our goals:
Decarbonisation of the Railway
The railway has a major role to play in achieving transport decarbonisation goals under the Government’s Climate Action Plan. It is our responsibility to minimise, as far as is practicable, our energy consumption and our impact on the environment. The railway’s emissions reductions achieved since 2006 at over 40 percent is significantly ahead of the EU 2020 target of 20 percent.
Some of the decarbonisation initiatives that we are pursuing over the longer term include, reduction of diesel fleet fuel consumption, in existing fleets; all future fleets will be either electric or hybrid, fully electric road vehicle fleet; achieve near zero energy building standard in all new buildings and upgrade 140 existing buildings to a minimum BER B rating; deliver the DART+ Programme which will treble electrification of the network in the Greater Dublin Area and target 80 percent traction and utility energy from renewable sources.
You can read more details on our decarbonisation plan in our Sustainability Strategy 2021 – 2030.
Climate Change and Rail Resilience
The heavy rail network is susceptible to disruption during weather events which have been increasing over the last decade. We’re working hard to increase the resilience of the network. Some elements of our infrastructure climate adaptation include; development and delivery of our East Coast Railway Protection Programme to ensure our scenic East coast rail line is resilient to the impacts of climate change; measures to prevent and alleviate flooding, annual infrastructure maintenance and renewal programme and back up electricity supplies for DART and signalling.
Iarnród Éireann departments with significant environmental impact are certified to the international standard for Environmental Management (ISO 40001:2015). It is our responsibility to minimise, as far as is practicable, the impact of our activities on the environment and to reduce our consumption of natural resources.
Some key ongoing environmental initiatives include, decontamination of key sites and improved fuelling practices and infrastructure; noise mitigation measures, improving air quality within stations, reducing pesticide usage and water management plans for each of our locations.
More information on our environmental management actions can be found in the Sustainability Strategy 2021 – 2030 or refer to our Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail Environmental Policy for more information
Waste Management and Circular Economy
We have committed to “Transform our business to minimise impacts on and maximise benefits to the environment, protecting our environment and enhancing biodiversity; and prioritising circular economy initiatives and waste management”.
To give some real examples, this means that by 2030 we want, 70 percent recycling of all waste, general and construction; that 25 percent of our raw materials purchases will come from recycled sources; all contracts for contract sleeper disposal to prioritise reuse of material; and we will create a more sustainable procurement process where major contract specifications request green alternatives and tender evaluations incorporate weighting that favours these alternatives.
You can read more on the Circular Economy in the Sustainability Strategy 2021 – 2030.
Protecting and Enhancing Biodiversity
While Iarnród Éireann is responsible for providing a safe, reliable, and sustainable transport network for its passengers, protection of the diverse landscapes and waterways alongside the rail network is of the greatest importance. As part of Iarnród Éireann’s ongoing commitment to the environment, we have several programmes underway focused on biodiversity enhancement and the protection of the natural environment.
Projects include things like investment in reforestation, our pollinator programme, vegetable gardens in stations, vegetation management and species protection. Some more information can be found in our Biodiversity Guidelines, the reference handbook our infrastructure colleagues use to ensure all essential works carried out on the rail network considers the complete ecosystem at any location and ensure works are carried out without interfering with or having impact on the surrounding environment.