Bus and rail group’s ‘Driving Energy Further’ strategy combines tough targets with sustained action

The Go-Ahead Group is at the forefront of efforts to reduce carbon and other environmental impacts in the passenger transport sector. Four years ago, Go-Ahead became the first UK transport operator to receive Carbon Trust Standard accreditation and in 2011 successfully achieved reaccreditation. ‘Driving Energy Further’ is the group’s carbon reduction strategy, where tough targets, combined with sustained action, is making a real difference to the environment.

The group-wide strategy saw Go-Ahead set a five-year target to deliver a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger journey and the group has achieved a 12% reduction so far.

Driving Energy Further is encouraging innovation and delivering fresh solutions to the challenge of using fuel more efficiently. Each Go-Ahead bus and rail operating company has appointed an energy champion responsible for co-ordinating energy reduction initiatives in their business. A group-wide energy forum monitors progress against targets and ensures best practice is shared across the group.

The traction electricity used to power Go-Ahead’s electric train fleets is responsible for 55% of the group’s carbon emissions and has therefore received close attention. Go-Ahead’s Govia joint venture with Keolis led the rail industry, in partnership with Network Rail and Bombardier, by introducing regenerative braking on the third rail to allow its electric trains to reuse energy generated when a train brakes. Last year, 63% of the train fleet was fitted with regenerative braking. All of London Midland’s fleet is now metered.

The fuel efficiency of the group’s 4,000 buses has also been improved. Go-Ahead has the greenest major bus fleet in Britain. Around 90% of its fleet meets Euro 2 standard engines.  However, the challenge of meeting tougher emissions targets has made buses less fuel efficient. Go-Ahead has responded by training all 10,000 of its bus drivers in fuel-efficient driving and introducing on-board technology to measure fuel consumption.

Go-Ahead and Williams Hybrid Power – a subsidiary of Williams Grand Prix – are developing ground-breaking flywheel energy storage application for buses. Six prototype buses will be retrofitted with a hybrid flywheel system, providing electro  mechanical energy to drive the bus and deliver up to 35% improvements to fuel economy and reductions in CO2 emissions.

The focus has not just been on vehicles, however. Fuel consumption at depots and stations accounts for 6% of Go-Ahead’s carbon emissions. This has been reduced by 9% through the introduction of intelligent lighting and smart gas and electricity meters. Staff have been encouraged to get involved by taking simple steps to reduce energy consumption at work – for example, switching off lights and office equipment.

Go-Ahead is now aiming to deliver further energy efficiencies through the introduction of exterior intelligent lighting at its bus garages and station car parks and LED lighting on station platforms. Voltage optimisers are also planned and will give Go-Ahead the ability to control and optimise electricity supply locally.

The group’s efforts have been recognised outside the passenger transport sector. Last year the group achieved the highest transport operator ranking in a new league table which lists more than 2,000 UK businesses according to how they manage their energy use.

The new Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme performance league table was published for the first time last November by the Environment Agency. The league table includes major supermarkets, retailers, restaurant chains, government departments and councils as well as UK transport operators.

The table measures what businesses have done to measure energy use in preparation for taking part in the carbon reduction commitment scheme to comply with Carbon Trust standards of energy management.

Go-Ahead is ranked at 93 in the table, the same level as Tesco and is the highest ranked transport operator in the UK.

Meanwhile, significant progress has been made in addressing the group’s other environmental impacts. This year the group met its objective of reviewing its water consumption across its sites. Its operating companies are installing smart meters and identifying and addressing leaks. The group set a target for cutting its water consumption by 10% for next year. This year, it reduced its water consumption by 4% – the equivalent of nearly 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Go-Ahead has also implemented a new group-wide contract to increase the amount of waste recycled, with the contractor specifically appointed to provide a mixed recycling service. Recycling is now embedded in the way it approaches running its businesses. At train operator Southeastern, for example, 68 tonnes of old newspapers are recycled each month and waste from its London operations is sent to a waste-to-energy plant In its depots, the group recycles vehicle parts and other waste such as oil filters and batteries. It currently recycles 52% of its waste, and next year it aims to increase that figure to 60%.


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