Railsponsible pushes for more sustainable procurement in railway sector

23 July 2023 Consultancy.eu 3 min. read

Railsponsible, a rail company platform with 16 participating member companies including several national railway operators, works to meet ESG targets by making railway industry procurement as sustainable as possible.

Founded in 2015, Railsponsible is a sector-wide initiative that unites leading companies in the rail industry in Europe and the United States to promote sustainability by addressing environmental, social, and ethical challenges collaboratively. The main objectives of the initiative are to raise awareness, share best practices, and advance sustainability initiatives.

Railsponsible is a joint project with the participation of H&Z Management Consulting and its sustainability platform SUSTAINX, which coordinates the activities of the like-minded consortium.

Railsponsible pushes for more sustainable procurement in railway sector

H&Z’s work helps to define common goals, set up working groups, and to identify appropriate green levers. The pan-European consulting firm facilitates all the activities of Railsponsible, a role which the firm took over beginning last year.

Sustainable procurement in the railway industry

European rail companies, many of which work with Railsponsible, have been striving for more sustainability across their operations and services, with procurement a key part of the mix. For example, NS, the main railway operator in the Netherlands has worked towards making their supply chain more circular, working with EcoVadis to evaluate the suppliers they work with.

Germany’s railway company, Deutsche Bahn, meanwhile has been working to make their operations and procurement more sustainable.

Railsponsible works to help these rail companies become more sustainable by systematically evaluating their procurement. This works through an EcoVadis-led platform, called the Sustainable Rail Initiative, through which 11 rail companies share their supplier information for evaluation.

“Sustainability and climate protection are the great challenges of our time and we must set the course for the future now, for the benefit of the generations to come,” said Stefan Braun, President of Railsponsible and Chief Procurement Officer of member company ÖBB.

“Against this background and taking into account the primary task of purchasing, namely ensuring viability in our procurement activities, the best possible result is to be found where ecology and economy meet. It requires an ambitious approach and enormous efforts along the entire supply chain, which can only be realized together with our suppliers and partners,” he continued.

Members sign a climate pledge

Just last month at a workshop in Vienna, Railsponsible members signed a climate pledge that seeks to directly address climate change by reducing emissions across the entire railway supply chain to net zero by 2050 by implementing decarbonization as soon as possible.

The pledge lays out the philosophy behind Railsponsible: “For decarbonization to happen, the global economy needs to adopt a systemic transformation, become more circular and resource-efficient, while phasing out fossil fuels. Railways play a key role in decarbonizing the transport sector while accelerating the global economic development of our societies. In this perspective, the railway industry is undergoing a significant transformation by acting for climate change mitigation.”

Rail travel remains the most environmentally friendly mode of mass transportation, according to an assessment from the European Environment Agency, which explicitly recommends expanding the availability of rail travel as a means of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for around 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union. The majority of those emissions (>70%) comes from road transportation with only a miniscule 0.5% derived from trains.