New RSSB framework means the societal value of rail can be better measured

Posted: 25 October 2018 | | No comments yet

New ‘Common Social Impact Framework for Rail’ (CSIF), set out by RSSB, is hoped to show the societal impact the rail industry has within the UK.


The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), in partnership with Action Sustainability, ARUP and Simetrica, has created a way for the UK rail industry to measure its social value – through the new ‘Common Social Impact Framework for Rail‘ (CSIF).

This RSSB research pulls together a robust range of monetised, quantifiable and qualitative measures that can be picked from and applied to a range of situations.

Whilst it can be agreed that rail is a ‘social good’, its value and impact on the society, communities and people it serves is not clearly demonstrated. The UK rail industry has numerous economic performance measures and is increasingly better at understanding its environmental performance, however, social sustainability is lagging behind and has limited metrics.

With sustainability becoming increasingly embedded within the rail industry, for example with the likes of the Rail Carbon Tool now being commonly used to assess the carbon emissions of a project, it is important that a consistent approach for the whole rail industry is introduced for social value.

Head of the Sustainable Development Programme, Anthony Perret, said: “Social value is a key element of what the UK rail industry brings to the country. It is increasingly important that we develop a way of measuring this, in terms of reporting value to local stakeholders, the communities in which we work, and our customers, and also to industry funders such as the Department for Transport.”

The CSIF will provide the structure for the rail industry and its community partners to do more in terms of serving customers and communities, providing a consistent approach to understanding the implications of our activities, planning and delivering work.

RSSB hopes to see the framework being used by the whole of the UK rail industry, and as such will be hosting a webinar on 28 November 2018 to introduce the framework and answer any questions. 

Trials took place during the creation of the framework with a number of companies, one of which was Skanska.

On the Wessex Alliance project, Peter Ives, Sustainability Manager for Skanska, used the CSIF to engage the wider project team through a number of workshops to quantify the positive value the project has had using a number of key social indicators. The work at Wessex has also demonstrated how using social value indicators at an earlier stage could have informed decision making that would have enabled a more positive outcome in society. 

Peter said: “The framework has presented the rail industry with an opportunity to start reporting social value on a much more consistent basis.”

The framework is just the starting point for the social value journey that rail is going through. Network Rail will use the CSIF framework to develop a user-friendly tool so that they can start to better measure the social value of their operations and projects.