Russian Railways operates in 77 subjects of the Russian Federation and is the largest user of natural resources in the country.
The selection of the Company’s choice of priorities in the area of rational environmental management and improving environmentally-friendly transport security to the year 2025 has been laid down by two official documents.
The first, The Fundamentals of Government Policy in the Field of the Russian Federation’s Environmental Development in the Period up to 2030, which was approved by the President of the Russian Federation on 30 April 2012, was followed six years later by Decree No. 204 “On the National Goals and Strategic Development Objectives of the Russian Federation for the Period up to 2024,” which was issued by the President of the Russian Federation on 7 May 2018.
In view of the priorities of the Government’s policy in the field of environmental protection, the main goal of Russian Railways with regard to environmental activities is to improve the level of environmental safety, environmental management and conservation of natural systems.
The environmental activities at Russian Railways are carried out in accordance with the documents:
- The Environmental Strategy of Russian Railways for the Period up to 2017 and the Outlook until 2030;
- The Strategy for the Development of Rail Transport in the Russian Federation until 2030
The main goal of Russian Railways in the field of ecology is concern about environmental safety and public health. To achieve this goal by 2025 compared to 2018, it is envisaged to
- reduce emissions of pollutants into the air from stationary sources by 18% by 2025 compared to the 2018 baseline level;
- achieve a 4.5% reduction in the specific level of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 compared to 2018;
- achieve a 20% reduction in water use by 2025 compared to 2018;
- reduce the discharge of contaminated wastewater into surface water and the ground by 18% by 2025 compared to the baseline level in 2018;
- increase the share of waste disposal and consumption in secondary circulation by 2.4% of their total amount by 2025 compared to the baseline level of 2018.
Rail transport is one of the most environmentally-friendly modes of transport. At the same time, the Company makes constant efforts to improve the efficiency of its environmental activities.
- For the Company’s environmental performance indicators, see our corporate social reports.
The main environmental risks for Russian Railways are related to the negative impact of the Company’s facilities on the environment and the use of natural resources, including non-renewable sources.
Reducing the impact on the environment has been achieved through the Company’s activities in the following critical areas:
- introducing innovative technologies to protect the atmosphere, water resources, increasing the use, decontamination and disposal of production waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution;
- improving the environmental management system;
- carrying out eco-monitoring of the impact on the environment.
The amount of pollution in Russia due to Russian Railways is currently less than 1% in terms of emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere, discharges of contaminated wastewater into surface water and waste generation.
Technical upgrading and the conversion of equipment to reduce the environmental impact:
- capital overhaul of locomotives with the replacement of outdated engines by modern and more environmentally-friendly engines;
- overhaul of the track with the replacement of wooden sleepers by environmentally-friendly reinforced concrete;
- purchase of wooden sleepers soaked in antiseptics rated higher than the eco-friendly 4th class of risk;
- equipping passenger rolling stock with environmentally-friendly closed toilets with tanks-collectors;
- conversion of boilers to cleaner fuels (gas, fuel oil), introduction of dust-collecting equipment;
- introduction of new heating systems on premises;
- introduction of water-saving technologies, water recycling systems, water rationing and metering.
Results of the Company’s Environmental Strategy
Russian Railways allocated a budget of over 8 billion roubles to priority environmental areas in 2018 and invested 5.27 billion roubles. A range of measures were implemented in each of the subjects of the Russian Federation during the year, including:
- the modernisation of about 22 heating facilities using resource-saving technologies in St. Petersburg, the Republic of Karelia, the Altai and Perm territories and the Pskov, Leningrad, Kaluga, Sverdlovsk and Nizhny Novgorod regions;
- the construction and reconstruction of nine industrial and household wastewater treatment facilities using the best available technologies;
- the decomissioning and elimination of 12 facilities with accumulated environmental damage in the republics of Kalmykia and Dagestan, the Altai territory and Moscow, Tula, Leningrad, Saratov, Sverdlovsk, Voronezh, Ulyanovsk and Amur regions;
- the continued reconstruction of the industrial waste site in the Chelyabinsk region.
Every year, the Company’s employees improve to an excellent benchmark sanitary condition the strips of land along the railway lines bordering on protected natural areas and in addition carry out fire prevention measures. Railway rights-of-way are constantly inspected for unauthorised piles of rubbish, fire breaks ploughed, old logging remains and old rough sleepers removed and dry wood and shrub vegetation cut down. In places where animals frequently cross the railway tracks, a reflective tape is applied and joint rounds with invited forestry and hunting representatives organised.
In 2018, the Company’s environmental activities received high praise from the federal executive branch and public organisations:
- In February 2018, Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, expressed his thanks the Russian Railways’ team for its active participation in the preparation and conduct of events within the framework of the Year of the Environment in the Russian Federation;
- In August 2018, the Directorate of Railway Stations, a branch of Russian Railways, was awarded a diploma for participating in the “Green Office 2018” campaign and winning in the “Best System for Accounting for Environmental Performance Indicators” category.
As part of the implementation of the Environmental Strategy of Russian Railways, emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere from stationary sources in 2019 are planned to be reduced by 1,800 tons compared to 2018. The Company plans to achieve this by:
- constructing new and reconstructing existing boilers;
- converting boilers to environmentally-cleaner types of fuels (gas, pellets, renewable energy);
- improving the efficiency of fuel combustion;
- introducing electric heating;
- eliminating small-scale coal boilers;
- reconstructing existing and introducing new dust-capture equipment.
Up to 80% of the waste generated by Russian Railways is reused in secondary circulation. The bulk of this waste, such as scrap ferrous and non-ferrous metals and processed petroleum products, is transferred to the waste processing market. In addition, waste is reused internally. The Company’s measures to reduce or recycle waste include:
- separate waste collection in administrative buildings and at railway stations;
- reduction in the use of writing paper by introducing electronic document management;
- reducing the generation of polyethylene waste by using biodegradable instead of plastic bags);
- reducing ash and slag waste generation by modernising boiler houses;
- reducing the production of waste containing mercury by switching to LED lighting.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Company is implementing programmes aimed at creating a green economy. These programmes are based on energy conservation and the introduction of environmentally-friendly technologies and renewable and alternative energy sources. Russian Railways has approved a method for determining the amount of greenhouse gas emissions which is designed to provide an inventory of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and determine the amount of these emissions produced by the structural units of the Russian Railways and Russian Railways as a whole.
Compared to the baseline of 1990, the volume of greenhouse gas emissions at Russian Railways fell by 29.1 million tons of CO2 to 37.8 million tons in 2018, a decrease of 43.5%. This reduction has been achieved by:
- reconstruction of existing boilers and switching them to more environmentally-cleaner fuels;
- savings in fuel and energy consumption;
- replacing obsolete rolling stock with new stock featuring improved environmental characteristics.
Introducing Resource-Saving Technologies
Russian Railways maintains a leading position in the energy efficiency and environmental efficiency of freight and passenger transport among the world’s railway companies. The Company is implementing the Russian Railways Energy Strategy for the period up to 2020 and for the Future until 2030 and the Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Improvement Programme. An important investment tool is the project “Introducing Resource-Saving Technologies on Railway Transport.” Important achievements in 2018 compared to 2017 were:
- reducing the specific consumption of fuel and energy resources on train traction by 0.4%;
- increase the level of energy recovery and recycling by 8.7%;
- reducing the specific consumption of fuel and energy resources for heating and moving locomotives in anticipation of future use by 2.5% in electric traction and by 1.5% in diesel traction;
- introducing 1,800 units of resource and energy-saving equipment totaling 1.97 billion roubles. under the Energy Saving Programme.
Environmental Structural Units at Russian Railways
1. Department of Occupational Safety, Industrial Safety and Environmental Control (CDC).
2. Environmental protection centres, including environmental laboratories and regional environmental commissions at all 16 of the Company’s regional rail divisions.
3. The Environmental Research and Production Centre is a branch of Russian Railways in Yaroslavl.