Network Rail Infrastructure Projects has made sustainability a formal part of its procurement process, with five per cent of tenders now hinging on a bid’s green credentials.
The move is part of Network Rail’s ‘Sustainable Development Vision’ which looks at how future major rail infrastructure projects can address pressing environmental and social challenges.
Waste and carbon reduction, protection of the natural environment and the creation of a level playing field for local firms to bid for contracts are among the types of initiatives the new five per cent requirement will judge suppliers on.
‘We, as an industry, are contributing massively to this issue in the UK,’ says Katie Ferrier, head of supplier engagement, Network Rail. ‘It’s a scary thought that we’re not doing enough to solve these issues.’
The new procurement requirement was revealed to Network Rail’s Tier 2 supply chain at Westwood Heath in December. During the event, delegates were shown examples of the kinds of social enterprise groups that can work alongside organisations to help them attain their five per cent.
One of the groups was REDS10 – a social enterprise set up in 2009 to find local apprentices to work on construction projects in their area. Managing Director Paul Ruddick believes groups like REDS10 will help the rail industry boost its sustainable employment practices.
‘With Network Rail now including five per cent sustainability requirements in their tenders, we are excited about bringing our services to the rail industry. We already work with most of the Tier 1 main contractors but in different sectors such as retail, residential, infrastructure, and education, so we believe there is no reason why we can’t bring added social value to the rail industry.’
The latest change to Network Rail’s procurement framework is part of a growing focus on sustainability within the organisation. Between 2011-2012, 85.9 per cent of Network Rail infrastructure waste was diverted from landfill, a step closer to the organisation’s target of 97 per cent by 2014.
In April 2011, Network Rail began sourcing all its track timber from certified sources who work in accordance with standards set by the WWF Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN). Globally recognised as one of the greenest transport modes the rail industry is increasingly committed to sustainability.
Last year Balfour Beatty pushed recognition of the subject by launching the Sustainability Award at the RailStaff Awards 2012. The Sustainability Award was won by Tahir Ayub (pictured right and below) a Senior Design Engineer at Network Rail based in Birmingham. The rail industry looks set to improve its environmental and social credentials this year.