Falkirk High Station to reach net-zero

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Falkirk High is set to become Scotrail’s first net-zero train station as part of plans to decarbonise Scotland’s railways by 2035.

The announcement was made on Tuesday (November 2) – the third day of the United Nations 26 annual climate change summit, hosted in Glasgow.

The project will oversee insulation upgrades in the station building, a four-bay solar-powered charging port installed, and LED lighting in the car park and walkways made dimmable.

Damian Keaveny, Scotrail’s head of environment, said: “The big focus of rail decarbonisation is on electrification, removing diesel trains and changing train types to hybrid, battery, and hydrogen – but through this work we have also flagged up the importance of decarbonising our stations and buildings.”

Scotrail commissioned the consultancy firm, Mott MacDonald, to investigate what could be done in existing stations to reduce emissions.

They reviewed the energy demands of three stations – including Falkirk High – and considered carbon-reducing technology that could be trailed.

Falkirk High was deemed the most viable and cost-effective to trial the project, as they plan to “remove as much carbon demand as possible through interventions and offsetting the remainder”, said Keaveny.

 “The intention was to identify what we could do with existing stations to make them more energy-efficient or zero-carbon.

“As you can imagine, all the stations are different and have different challenges.”

Scotrail have already delivered an estimated 38% reduction in overall carbon emissions since 2014.

The firm will participate in offsetting schemes to address the remaining emissions, where money is given to another organisation involved in environmental activities, intended to balance out the carbon footprint.  

These activities can involve the organisation reducing their own emissions to compensate or implementing the means to absorb the remaining CO2.  

While the exact source of investment is yet to be confirmed, the company have said they are looking into local organisations.

Keaveny said: “The plan would be to offset for a number of years, to account for the carbon emissions to 2035.”

Offsetting has been widely criticised by environmental campaigners as being counterproductive as it often does not extract greenhouse gases entirely from the atmosphere, thus remains a driver of global warming.

If the trial is successful, measures will extend to all Scottish stations.  

The work at Falkirk High station has commenced and is expected to be complete by April 22 2022.

Featured Image Credit: Kaitlin Wraight

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