Tuesday 10 May 2022

First collection campaign of the Rail Sustainability index (RSi) launched on 3 May 2022

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Isabelle De Keyzer, Senior Advisor and RSi project manager, opened and facilitated the online event to launch the Rail Sustainability index (RSi) on 3 May. This new online tool, designed for and with the global rail community, will provide UIC members with a unique sustainability rating system and a supportive digital platform, based on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, to assess the performance of each railway on the basis of a selection of Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

Lucie Anderton, Head of the UIC Sustainable Unit, delivered a keynote address on behalf of François Davenne, UIC Director General, highlighting that the UIC Global Rail Sustainability Taskforce set out an inspiring and ambitious 2030 Vision for Rail in 2021. This vision gives a picture of how rail can transform in the decade ahead for a more sustainable mobility system. UIC is now publishing its manifesto on how it will work to support the realisation of this vision.

She added: “At UIC, we aim to raise the awareness of the significant contribution railways make towards a more sustainable future, and this new Rail Sustainability index will help us to do just that.

The online facility will allow railways from around the world to record their contribution to seven key UN Sustainable Development Goals, the globally recognised framework for sustainability.

The Rail Sustainability index has been designed to help UIC members better access sustainable finance products through transparent reporting and benchmarking.”

RSi and the SDGs

Paolo Mazzeo, Project Chairman, FS, introduced the Rail Sustainability index as a simple, online reporting tool for rail’s contribution to the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Seven key SDGs where rail can make the most demonstrable contribution were selected, with 21 quantitative and qualitative score KPIs. Each company had to assign a score to SDGs.

He spoke about the main steps of the project and gave a demonstration of the RSi tool where you can select the activity of your company. The structure is basically the same for all SDGs. He added that after the campaign, there would be a validation process headed by UIC.

The value of reporting

The Rail Sustainability index will help companies think through the SDGs and how they can influence their strategy as a company.”

Peter Paul van de Wijs, from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), spoke about his company’s role in helping organisations to be transparent and take responsibility for their impacts in order to create a sustainable future. GRI is the global standard setter for impact reporting. He described the GRI standards, and the global trend based on a two-pillar reporting structure and a core set of common standards. Pillar One strengthens financial reporting and Pillar Two, sustainable reporting. He also spoke about the role of reporting in advancing the SDGs, the key highlights and trends.

How the Rail Sustainability index supports ESG data and investors’ priorities

What we see is the development of a clear methodology, good evidence, the ability to benchmark, and historic data which can help fund managers take targeted action that will lead to better outcomes.”

Joe Robinson, ESG Manager at Equitix, presented the company, as a risk-free infrastructure investor, with rail, rolling stock and in high-speed rail investments as part of the portfolio of the company. He emphasised the challenges of obtaining significant and robust ESG data that can guide investment decision making and highlighted the opportunities that the RSi offers as a tool to address and solve some of these challenges. He also praised the fact that the industry as a whole is working on a tool that is well aligned with the direction investors and lenders are looking to take in terms of ESG data.

Rail companies and their sustainability journeys

In the second part of the event, Christine Vanoppen, Chair of the Sustainability Platform/REG (LINEAS), moderated a panel discussion composed of representatives of Equitix, Lineas, FS Italiane, VIA Rail and Sydney Trains.

The panel of experts presented their companies’ sustainability actions and their efforts to include more sustainability criteria in their strategies, policies and material issues, creating value for future and present generations. Panellists also discussed how they see the RSi supporting different stakeholders within the rail sector (operators, infrastructure managers, etc.) to deliver their sustainability goals, together with the challenges that they see for the tool, with data collection being the main concern. The strength of the tool lies in its widespread use in the industry.

We are keen to learn how we benchmark not only amongst our peers within the rail sector, but also how we can derive, from this exercise, how we can improve. This helps us make our position much clearer and helps us ‘walk the talk’.” explained Christine Vanoppen.

Claim your badge!

Finally, Serge Ravet, from Reconnaitre, Open Recognition Alliance, gave a presentation on the contribution of Open badges to the Rail Sustainability index and explained what the Open badges are and why to use them. These badges are simple ways to capture skills and practices and to make them visible to the rest of the world. The RSi badge can be claimed by railway professionals who are contributing to the Rail Sustainable index (RSi). He added that there will be many more badges to come.


From the wide array of experts, from reporting, financing and the rail sector itself, there is consensus on the value that the RSi brings to accelerating the sector’s contribution to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Isabelle De Keyzer reminded everyone that the more companies use the tool to report their sustainability data, the stronger its benchmarking potential and value for all stakeholders will be.

Closing the event, Lucie Anderton declared the RSi data collection open. UIC member companies are now invited to start their reporting and help strengthen the new tool.

More information on the tool is available here https://uic.org/sustainability/article/rail-sustainability-index-project

To connect to the tool and report your data, contact dekeyzer@uic.orggro.ciu:rezyeked’)]

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