New tool launched to help British rail industry measure social value

The Rail Social Value Tool was co-funded by Network Rail and helps to measures the social value of rail investments and infrastructure projects.

Network Rail tool

Credit: Network Rail

A new online tool to help the rail industry measure the social value of its investments, infrastructure projects and day-to-day operations has been launched. The Rail Social Value Tool (RSVT), co-funded by Network Rail, is provided by the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB) and Loop (formerly Social Profit Calculator).

The RSVT allows the rail industry to forecast, monitor and evaluate the social value of its activities. This is about measuring the impact on the welfare and wellbeing of both individuals and wider society, the net positive (or negative) social, economic, and fiscal value that a project, organisation or specific initiative generates. 

With 500 indicators, organised across 12 social impacts, the RSVT can measure and monetise a wide range of benefits. These include:

  • Improving safety
  • Jobs created, apprentices employed, and training provided
  • Change to air quality
  • Increasing biodiversity, by protecting and boosting plant and animal life, and planting trees
  • Curriculum enrichment support for young people
  • Design features that make rail travel more accessible and inclusive
  • Employee and community volunteering
  • Co-designing infrastructure and services with communities.

The RSVT has undergone extensive testing since November 2021 by early adopters, including Network Rail and companies in its supply chain.

“The launch of the Rail Social Value Tool is an important milestone which enables our industry to make a step-change in how we understand and manage our impacts on people,” Liz Holford, Sustainability Strategy manager (Social Performance) for Network Rail, said. “We are already using the tool to forecast and maximise the social value of station redevelopments and infrastructure enhancements as well as current projects and some completed ones, and we’re looking forward to using it further to manage and improve the impact our railway has on society.”

“It’s fantastic to see the Rail Social Value Tool launched,” George Davies, Director for Sustainable Development for RSSB, said. “Rail may be one of the most sustainable forms of transport, but we haven’t been able to measure its social value in sufficient detail until now. We can now assess, and importantly place a financial value on the effect the railway has in a number of areas including the natural environment, communities, people and their health, cultural heritage, housing, inclusivity, and distribution of opportunities. 

“We are proud to have worked with RSSB and the wider rail sector to help them deliver the Rail Social Value Tool,” Gerard Toplass, Group Chief Executive of Loop, said. “Over the next five years we look forward to further developing the tool and helping the rail sector continue to deliver measured social value.”