Southern Rail making progress on environmental issues

Managing its environmental impact is a top priority for Train Operator Southern and over the past few years, changes made to the way in which it approaches its environmental responsibilities have made a real difference.

Southern has a dedicated team of Environmental Champions that work across stations, engineering depots and offices to spread good working practices. Simple changes can really make a difference.

Barnham based train driver, Dean Holden, known affectionately as ‘Green Dean’ is one of Southern’s Environmental Champions and is also a West Sussex County Council waste prevention advisor spreading the green agenda to schools and community groups.

Dean said: “We can all make a difference, no matter what job we do, or how small the change. In our Barnham offices for example, we have removed paper towels because our hand dryers help us reduce wastage. ”

On a much larger scale, overall, Southern now recycles 65% of waste originally destined for landfill, an impressive 23% improvement compared to last year.

Southern’s commitment to manage its impact on the environment recently received recognition at the National Rail Awards when it walked away with the top environmental prize. The success was in no small part down to the charisma of its environmental champions but also its robust Environmental Management System, which was awarded the internationally accepted standard for environmental management, ISO 14001 in July this year. This new management system is helping Southern to minimise its environmental risks, is reducing operational costs and is instrumental in Southern’s environmental commitment.

Electricity consumption is one of Southern’s biggest impacts on the environment and since 2007 it has reduced the amount of domestic electricity it uses at its stations, train care depots and offices by 9.9%.

This has been achieved with good housekeeping as well as investment in initiatives such as new energy efficient lighting systems. At Chichester Station new lighting was installed in 2010 and since then has already saved over 23,250 kg of CO2. At Southern’s engineering depot in Brighton, its second biggest depot site, a voltage optimiser reduces the amount of electricity entering the depot. This is the first of its kind at a train depot and successfully reduces the amount of energy used when maintaining Southern’s train fleet.

Southern has also led the way in reducing the amount of electricity its trains use by pioneering ‘regenerative braking’, which sees its entire fleet of Class 377 Electrostar trains putting power back into the third rail system when the train applies the brakes. This initiative can reduce electricity consumption by around 17% and is so effective, it has been taken-up by other rail operators in the UK.