CORDIS - EU research results

Infrastructure Guidelines for Environmental Railway Performance

Periodic Report Summary - INFRAGUIDER (Infrastructure Guidelines for Environmental Railway Performance)

The EU FP7 Coordinated Action 'Infrastructure guidelines for environmental railway performance' InfraGuidER started the 01/01/2009 and lasts two years. InfraGuidER objectives are:

- a shared understanding of both the common and different environmental aspects relevant to the railway infrastructure system in Europe, and identification of a common practical approach to harmonise material procurement based on these aspects;
- a description of the environmental aspects relevant to the European railway infrastructure system taking into account the physical constitution of the system and the operational and management processes;
- an appropriate toolbox of methods to identify the environmental significance of materials used in railway infrastructure systems, including systems analysis (SA), material flow analysis (MFA) and waste management;
- a draft set of environmental performance indicators (EPIs) formulated as a draft European environmental guideline.

Railway infrastructure environmental management has been analysed from the viewpoint of conformance to ISO 14001, railway infrastructure material flow has been evaluated with material flow analyses (MFA) and railway infrastructure material procurement has been investigated with regards to how procurement can impact the environmental performance of railway infrastructure inside the infrastructure system and from the viewpoint of the infrastructure material life cycle.

The environmental impact assessment methodologies are based on life cycle assessment and eco-procurement is identified an important function of the railway environmental management system, since it aids to reduce the unwanted material inflow, impacts on the total life cycle of bulk material and controls the material build-up inside the infrastructure.

Five key environmentally strategic functions of infrastructure organisations are highlighted: the board of directors, the planning and implementation of projects, the infrastructure operation, the contracting operators and the material and subcontractor procurement.

Up to now InfraGuidER available outcomes are:

- systems models, describing how the different infrastructure managers in the project have implemented some environmental management processes, related to the functions described by the ISO 14001 environmental management system;
- a collection of tools and methods in use for the environmental impact evaluation;
- material flow models that describe how the major materials and substances are entering the railway infrastructure and leaving as waste or as emissions to air, ground and water;
- a material and component database collecting the data obtained by the InfraGuidER IMs.

All these items allowed to understand clearly the environmental framework of the railway infrastructure and to initiate a constructive process. Upcoming results are a compilation of tools to assess and manage the environmental performance of materials and components.

The overall result is a combined view of railway infrastructure material flows, railway infrastructure management and railway infrastructure material procurement, which provides clear guidance towards improved environmental performance, both on a global climate scale and on the local and regional scale including waste minimisation and reduction of toxic substances.

The added value is its exploring the not yet exploited potential of railway network assets renewal and planning for positively affecting the environmental performance of the infrastructure managers (IMs). The carrying out of this activity from a consortium composed by different stakeholders IMs suppliers and Academia reflects in a balanced way the status and some future opportunities from both inside and outside the railway companies. This approach is challenging the IMs to enhance their actual policies, EMS aspirations recommending new urgencies for the IMs agenda to analyse existing national good practices and striving to build-up a proposition for a usable EU management tool.