Energy, efficiency and the railway

It’s Energy Saving Week – a campaign that aims to help and encourage us all to save energy while cutting down on fuel costs.

Travelling by rail is already considered the greenest form of public transport but there are lots of other ways the railway helps save energy and the environment.

Here are just some of the ways we’re working to make our railway even more energy-efficient …

A greener network

In fact, we’re committed to cutting our carbon emissions to net-zero across the entire railway. We aim to do this by 2045 in Scotland and by 2050 in the rest of Britain. We’re doing everything we can to improve air quality, minimise our use of fossil fuels, and move to being powered by green, renewable, low-carbon energy. This will mean a more efficient, greener and more sustainable railway for you.

More efficient stations

We’re upgrading many stations to make them more energy efficient.

We installed bigger, better and more efficient screens inside Scotland’s busiest stations, Edinburgh Waverly and Glasgow Central, in October. The new screens save energy by sleeping during the night and responding to changes in lighting. They’re also easier to read, with white text on black backgrounds.

And did you know some of our stations have motion-sensor lights, which save electricity help local bats? Bats often use the railway as a commuter route and these motion-sensor lights help give them the darkness they prefer. 


We’re electrifying many lines to allow electric trains to travel on more areas of the railway. These trains will replace diesel services. 

Electric trains are better for the environment than diesel trains. And they’re quieter for passengers and people who live near the railway.

Some of the major lines we’re working to electrify include sections of the East Coast Main Line, the Transpennine Route and the Levenmouth Rail Link, which will reconnect Levenmouth in Fife to the railway for the first time in more than 50 years.

Freight: a greener alternative to lorries

Freight operators use the railway to move everything from cars to the essential items you see on supermarket shelves. It’s an environmentally friendly alternative to lorries, reducing carbon emissions and road traffic compared to the alternative lorries.

Our zero-carbon freight service helps transport goods in an even more efficient way by using converted fully electric four-car trains. We worked with rail operator Varamis last year to launch this innovative service to transport consumer goods between Scotland and the Midlands five days a week.

We’re also busy building a huge freight interchange connecting to the West Coast Main Line in Northampton that’s due to open this year. Once ready, four freight trains will run here each day, moving thousands of tonnes of goods across the country.

Each freight train will take up to 76 heavy good vehicles off the roads. It will also employ 7,000 people, boosting the economy.

Our Transpennine Route Upgrade will give you better journeys along the line between York and Manchester via Leeds and Huddersfield. It also includes big plans to boost freight. The upgrade aims to enable 15 more freight trains a day on this route – the equivalent of 1,000 lorries each day.

Read more