Sustainable Land Use

Reports and studies from our work on polluted soils, nature protection and biodiversity.

State of the art on railways polluted soils

The polluted soils and remediation network has been created in 2007, as the thematics has been highlighted with the proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for the protection of soil and amending Directive 2004/35/EC.

The work of the network is dedicated to questions regarding polluted soils from the past. The goal is to create awareness at top management level for sustainable land use, that means using land (soil) as a natural resource, without limiting its value for future generations.

A first project has been conducted in 2008 to establish a report based on a survey amongst EU railway members of UIC on the pollution and remediation of soils. Some information and the final report are available below.

The UIC Soil Network proposed to describe the state of the art concerning the soil pollution on railway properties and its remediation in Europe. The main objective of the research is to contribute to the
harmonization of the approach towards polluted railway properties within the European Union.

UIC commissioned the Dutch foundation SBNS to investigate and to describe the status quo of railway related soil pollution in the Member States of the European Union. This study was based on a questionnaire sent to European UIC members.

The main conclusions were the following:

  • Soil pollution on railroad land in European countries is a significant topic.
  • European legislation will certainly lead to the introduction or the adjustment of national laws in the field of soil management.
  • Within the Member States of the European Union big differences occur:
    • in status quo of the legislation in the field of soil pollution,
    • in the progress of soil remediation,
    • in working methods.
  • The support for a common knowledge base is high.

Contaminated soil assessment scheme

The last three years of the polluted soil remediation´s work program has been to focus on exchange of technical issues, to follow the development of the amendments of Directive 2004/35/EC, and to finalize a project on the establishment of a contaminated soils assessment scheme, which objectives were to give:

  • some recommendations for improvement of environmental data handling,
  • some recommendations for implementation of a data system,
  • recommendation for risk management due to polluted soil and
  • properties use for the benefit of railway companies.

In June 2010 a summary of the contaminated soils assessment scheme was finalized and the technical report has been available since October 2010. The summary and the report are available below.

Polluted soil seminar 2010

Managing the financial and environmental risk of soil contamination of railway properties

In the framework of sustainable land use there is strong external pressure on railway companies for real estate development on abandoned or partially used railway land. This requires that railway companies manage the financial and environmental risk of soil contamination of their properties. The objectives of the seminar was to exchange railway specific know-how and experiences and to give information about:

  • the problems that goes along with polluted soils
  • the state-of-the-art within the railway community
  • awareness at managerial levels of the need for sustainable land use
  • the challenge to intensify cooperation both within the railway of community and with third parties
  • exploring efficient solutions and
  • demonstration of best practices.

The seminar was targeting environmental coordinators, project managers at real estate redevelopment etc.

The seminar was a two days seminar and was organized in close cooperation with the State Joint Stock Company LATVIJAS DZELZCEĻŠ/LDZ/Latvian railway. The seminar took place on the 14th and 15th October 2010.

A technical visit took place on the second day of the seminar where the participants of the seminar made a tour to the LDZ Rolling Stock Service Riga Section, which is a locomotive depot where the participants could see a demonstration of renovated fuel storage and locomotive servicing plant as well as different devices for soil protection against pollution with oil products. Hereafter the technical visit went to the Latvian Railway history museum in Riga.

The programme, presentations giving at the seminar and different articles written before, during and after the seminar can be seen below.

Vegetation management

Vegetation control along railway lines should not harm the environment. This and the increasing pressure to cut costs for vegetation control motivated several railway companies to start various activities to reduce the amount of herbicides used.

The UIC commissioned research in 2003 on the reduction of herbicides in railways, and launched another project in 2011 to update this information. The UIC also published a more general report on soil pollution in 2009.

These reports are available to UIC members on our Extranet, in the Sustainable Land use section in the Sustainability workspace.

There is also UIC Leaflet 723 on vegetation control which is available to UIC members or can be purchased by the general public here:
UIC leaflet 723 is available on

Herbie project
UIC Guideline for Integrated Vegetation Management
Part A

Guidelines, State of the Art and Integrated Assessment of Weed Control and Management for Railways