Industry Information

Actions, not aspirations, will save the planet

October 3, 2023
Solum Twickenham Station Completion (5)

More frequent extreme weather events, alarming rises in sea temperatures and a host of other indicators all point to the urgency of cutting carbon emissions. 

Expanding the rail network, extending electrification and improving access for all will help progress to net zero. Diverting travellers from road or air transport to rail will certainly help. 

But that doesn’t mean the rail industry gets a ‘free pass.’ Many aspects of the way organisations like Octavius operate have a meaningful impact on the drive to net zero. 

We’re acutely aware that every project we deliver to expand or improve the rail network comes with a carbon cost – both current and future. The materials we use typically come with high levels of embodied carbon.  

Transporting those materials along with plant and operatives to the worksite also has a carbon cost. We actively measure this and strive to minimise it on every project. 

Real Reductions 

Carbon accounting can become complex. It’s easy to lose sight of the simple reality that the most direct way to reduce carbon emissions is to, well, emit less carbon. 

It’s becoming increasingly harder to justify classifying materials or activities as ‘low carbon’ if they rely on offsets and carbon trading. This raises the profile of design changes that reduce the quantity of materials used and cut carbon emissions in real, rather than just accounting terms. 

Across Octavius Rail we’re getting to grips with how we measure carbon costs, along with the savings we make through smarter design and efficient working methods. But there’s still plenty to do. 

It’s a priority to design and build assets that last longer and need less frequent repair or reconstruction. Choosing the most resilient design and construction needs to be balanced against short term productivity and cost efficiency. Having a supportive operating framework is essential. 

Our framework to achieve net zero is based on the principles of PAS2080 carbon management and ISO20400 responsible procurement accreditation, which we aim to achieve by 2024. 

For more information contact Mike Todd ( 

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