Volunteer profile: Mark Carne, chief executive

Demonstrating leadership.

Mark Carne, our chief executive (pictured above, far right), wanted to use some of his five days’ annual volunteer leave – offered to all Network Rail employees – to have a positive impact on the environment, to protect and enhance lineside surroundings and to inspire local communities. This is in addition to work Mark has undertaken this year with Barnardo’s, Network Rail’s charity of choice.

As a proud Cornishman, Mark visited Saltash, in south east Cornwall.

The species only inhabits 15 known sites in the UK, so the site management of Network Rail’s volunteer team is critical to their existence. Pleasingly, the site has shown much sign of improvement this year and was in good health on Mark’s visit.

What did Mark do?

On their second visit, Mark and colleagues tended to the flowers and identified more than 100 rosettes, showing that the seedbank had indeed been reinvigorated due to their earlier volunteering activity.

The town is home to Deptford Pinks, an endangered plant that likes the climate at Saltash. When my schedule allows, I visit to help preserve their habitat.


It's encouraging to see that the few hours' work we did has been successful in enabling these plants to reach maturity and set seed to, hopefully, establish the next generation.

Mark Carne, chief executive, Network Rail

A positive impact

The site where the conservation work took place is an access point frequently used by railway colleagues, so not only did the local environment benefit, but also Network Rail as a business.

The type of work carried out on the day – to cut back encroaching vegetation – was very similar to the type of operation that is carried out by colleagues across the network at level crossings and around signals on a regular basis each year.

It’s often thought that improving biodiversity is an extra cost over and above the safety and performance work that we do every day but this work is a great case study to demonstrate the positive impact on biodiversity that our routine work can have.

What did Mark learn?

Leading the way in connecting communities with the environment raises awareness among colleagues of the valuable relationships that can be developed with communities and enables wider internal knowledge and education around environmental issues. This in turn demonstrates Network Rail’s commitment to being an environmentally conscious and responsible organisation.

Volunteering of this nature provides a long-term benefit, leaving a sustainable legacy for future generations that is at the heart of Network Rail’s social performance strategy.

Find out more

  • Managing the trees, shrubs and plants alongside our railway to ensure the safety of passengers and railway workers is essential, and it’s something we plan carefully and with consideration. Visit our vegetation management pages to find out how we do it
  • The railway stretches contributes to the country’s economic and social development, bringing jobs, transport links and other benefits to local communities. As such we have a social responsibility to support Britain's growth. Find out how by visiting our social performance pages