THE International Union of Railways (UIC) has issued its 2022 Global Rail Sustainability Report, which includes insight on the effort, results, performance and perspective of 34 of its members towards achieving the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.

The report, the first of its kind issued by the UIC, summarises the findings of the UIC’s Rail Sustainability Index (RSi), launched in 2022 as a benchmarking tool to measure rail’s sustainability performance against seven UN SDGs identified as being specifically related to rail: gender equality; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry innovation and infrastructure; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; and climate action.

The inaugural report was developed by the UIC Sustainability Team and includes findings from 34 UIC members, including 32 from Europe, one from Asia and one from North America. It is hoped that participation will grow in subsequent reports, particularly with sustainability reporting becoming more important in accessing funding and support from other stakeholders.

The members were asked to enter figures from the past three years (2019-2021) so that trends and progress could be observed. Among the standout observations is that of these participants, 59% are sourcing energy from renewables, with 61% of their lines electrified, while more than 290GWh of energy was saved over the last three years. 53% report having a target in place for renewable energy that is constantly monitored.

In addition, waste recycling and re-use rates have risen from 64.9% in 2019 to 77.5% in 2021. On climate action, 56% of participants collaborate with government on policy solutions for climate change and scaling up climate action while 56% also have an emission target active in 2021.

The wider report highlights efforts by the industry to be responsible employers, its impact on cities and communities, and its role in economic development, crisis support and promoting peace. 

UIC director general, Mr François Davenne, says that the report showcases an “impressive range of ways that railways and rail travel is contributing to a more sustainable future, from dramatic improvements to air quality and energy efficiency, to protecting wildlife and improving the gender balance in the workforce.”

“Transport is key to fostering human connection,” Davenne says. “Now more than ever the global transport community needs to make a concerted effort to deliver meaningful, systemic change that promotes social, economic, and environmental development and will allow future generations to live in prosperity and in harmony with nature.”

The full report is available here.