South Western Railway (SWR) says it is the first train company to have published a Social Value Report, using tools provided by the RSSB (formerly the Rail Safety and Standards Board).
The report looks at the impact the business has on society, the environment, and the economy.
RSSB Research has identified ten key areas of social impact for rail. These are community safety, accessibility, employment and skills, social inclusion, diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, local and sustainable procurement, and regeneration.
For a common, consistent basis for understanding and measuring social impacts across Great British rail industry organisations, projects, and programmes, RSSB Research established the Common Social Impact Framework (CSIF), soon to be known as the Rail Social Value tool. SWR commissioned independent experts from Larch Consulting to assess its social impact both quantitatively and qualitatively, using this methodology.
Key achievements highlighted by the assessment include:
- Supporting 215 people to complete an apprenticeship
- Procuring 7.5% of all spend from small and medium-sized businesses
- Providing training courses worth £10.7 million
- Appointing and training 82 mental health first aiders
- Increasing the proportion of step-free access stations to 68%
- Investing £1.03 million in the Customer and Communities Improvement Fund
- Preventing 175 incidents through interventions from frontline teams
- Limiting staff turnover to 5.6% through colleague engagement
- Donating £259,316 to charities
- Dedicating 117.5 hours of staff time to the delivery of health and wellbeing courses
- Establishing five key networks to help achieve greater diversity and stronger inclusion
- Achieving a 4 or 5 out of 5 rating for station experience from 76% of respondents to the customer satisfaction survey
- Introducing a passenger assistance satisfaction survey
- Developing a network for apprentices.
SWR has said it will continue to improve the recording of social impact data across all areas, as well as refine its measurement practices. It intends to release a report of this kind every year.
Head of sustainability for SWR, Amy Dickinson, said: “As one of the busiest networks in the country, we inevitably have an impact – on society, the environment, and the economy – and it is our responsibility to achieve maximum social value, taking every opportunity to have positive impacts, while mitigating the potential for disbenefits.
“As our first report of this kind, we know that it is not perfect, but to know where we are going, we had to know where we were coming from – and so, we are proud to share it. It serves as a benchmark from which SWR can build this year, and every year.
“Our stakeholders, customers, and communities should consider it an invitation. Whether you have a great idea, an exciting new project, or simply just want to find out more, we would love to hear from you. Together, we can ensure that the people of the South West get the most out of life.”
RSSB’s sustainable rail programme lead, Michelle Papayannakos, said: “Rail Safety and Standards Board is proud to work with South Western Railway as one of the first rail operators to apply the Rail Social Value tool and the first to embrace public social impact reporting.
“We hope to continue to collaborate with SWR to develop consistency in reporting across railway organisations, and ultimately champion and document at an industry level the wide social benefits and opportunities Britain’s railways bring.
“We believe the railways should be valued not only as a mode of transportation of people and freight, but also for the greater social goods that they deliver.”