Using PESTEL to design effective strategies
A Network Rail case study

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Page 5: Environmental and Legal issues


The greatest non-financial benefit of railways is environmental. Rail travel is much more energy-efficient than travel by road or air. For example, it is estimated that a car journey is six times more polluting than a similar distance by rail. Unlike roads, railways make few new demands on land and release lower levels of carbon dioxide.

It is estimated that a car journey is six times more polluting than a similar distance by rail.

In keeping with its green credentials, Network Rail takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. For example, it buys wood for the rail tracks from forests which are properly managed and renewable. Railways are sometimes called 'nature's corridors' and Network Rail is responsible for the UK's largest number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) alongside or near the tracks. Protecting these areas helps wildlife conservation, which in turn brings social benefits to Network Rail in terms of its public image.

The valuation of rail's environmental advantage is highly political. Network Rail is committed to helping the public understand the positive contribution rail travel makes to the environment. Public attitudes and political goodwill influence how much money and support for projects Network Rail receives.


Network Rail has to comply with a very wide range of legislation. Company law and the terms of its not-for-dividend structure are only the start. As a huge property owner, Network Rail deals with firms and households throughout the UK. It is a large national employer needing skilled and committed staff. Compliance with employment laws is particularly important. It owns all stations on the UK rail network and manages the largest. Consequently, it aims to provide facilities that meet the needs of all passengers. This includes those with disabilities, under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995.

Health and safety legislation affects almost all of Network Rail's activities. New legal requirements reflect political pressures arising from changing social attitudes. Railways have always offered one of the safest ways to travel and continue to seek to improve their record on safety. For Network Rail this reflects its culture of continuous improvement and total quality management. 'Raising the bar' is at the heart of the company's mission to provide a safe, reliable and efficient railway fit for the 21st century.

Network Rail | Using PESTEL to design effective strategies