Sustainability

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Are train tickets recyclable?

Unfortunately, the magnetic slurry used within orange railway tickets to create the magnetic strip contains volatile and metallic components. This means they are incompatible with the general paper recycling process. These should be placed into the general waste at LNER locations where they will be sent for energy recovery.

We're continuing to look at more environmentally friendly solutions, such as eTicket’s and our new mobile app instead of a paper ticket.

Are trains good for the environment?

When you need to travel doing it in the way that causes the least emissions is the most responsible way to travel. That is where trains have the advantage over other forms of transport which covers long distances, such as car or planes. Per passenger train travel causes fewer emissions than car or plane travel and therefore can be said to be good for the environment.

In 2019 LNER replaced its old fleet of diesel high speed trains (HST). These were designed in an era where line electrification was not available, and the importance of the environmental impacts was not widely understood. The replacement of the HST’s for our Azuma trains in 2019 enabled LNER to remove unnecessary diesel consumption across the line where an overhead electrical supply is available. This means that trains destined for destinations north of Edinburgh for the first time can run on electric mode from King’s Cross to Edinburgh and then switch to diesel to complete the remainder of the journey where electrification is not available. The carbon intensity of national grid electricity is continually reducing. This means that while we may not have reduced energy consumption through the switch from HST’s, we have transitioned to a cleaner energy source.

The UK government has a target to achieve Net Zero by 2050, the drive to this target will see a further reduction in grid electricity carbon intensity as lower and zero carbon energy sources come online (e.g. wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, biomass, anaerobic digestion).

Our new trains bring new technology. Our fleet of electric and bi-mode Azuma trains which incorporate regenerative braking. This means energy is captured through the braking process which otherwise would have been lost. Sensors within the train automatically place the carriages into low power mode when the train is idle, and no movement has been detected.

While trains have a lower carbon footprint than domestic flights and car travel, here at LNER we are working with internal and external stakeholders to continually improve the efficiency of our operations in terms of energy and running on time.

Do trains cause pollution?

Trains create pollution; however, it is important to note that on a passenger level rail is one of the lowest impact public transport methods, in addition the carbon footprint intensity of rail continues to decrease.

In 2019 LNER successfully retired the old fleet of diesel high speed trains in favour of modern electric and bi-mode Azuma trains. The enabled us to reduce carbon intensive diesel consumption by 30% compared to 2019.

Pollution comes from the diesel (used north of Edinburgh where electric trains cannot run) and electricity that the trains consume while moving along the East Coast mainline. Diesel releases the greatest amount of carbon, while the electricity we consume from the overhead line has a much lower carbon intensity. This is because the UK national grid is decarbonising. This is the removal of fossil fuel power stations in favour of low and zero carbon alternatives e.g. solar, wind, hydro, biomass and anaerobic digestion.

Are trains more environmentally friendly than planes?

Rail is considered more environmentally friendly than air travel however the degree to which this is true vary depending on the length of journey, occupancy levels and energy source for each mode of transport.

While ground transport has utilised electricity as a supply source for many years, this is currently not possible for the aviation sector. Instead they are limited to carbon intensive aviation fuel, projects have commenced to reduce the environmental impact of this. In the rail industry there are two forms of energy utilised at present diesel and electricity.

Here at LNER we reduced our diesel consumption by 30% in 2019. In doing so we were able to reduce the carbon emissions of the business, equally trains which can utilise electricity are significantly cleaner in terms of emissions to the air. This is largely facilitated by national grid decarbonisation projects which is bringing online more renewable sources.

Further reading can be done here

How have you calculated the carbon footprint for my journey?

The calculation assumes the quickest route between the two chosen destinations and uses the same distance for each mode of transport (car, plane, train). We use as the crow flies assumptions for distance travelled because actual routing of alternative journeys that a customer could choose is unknown. Removing distance as a variable may therefore mean that the calculation does not replicate all potential ‘real life’ journeys but it allows a like for like journey distance comparison of transport types.

View our carbon calculator

This distance is multiplied by the relevant carbon conversion factor to calculate the carbon footprint of the journey. The calculator uses these government conversion factors.