Illuminating Our Railways Sustainably

Published July 23

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

“The importance of good lighting on the rail network should not be underestimated” explains Simon Newcombe, our rail sector specialist. “It directly contributes to, and has a significant positive impact on, a passenger’s perception of security and safety. In my experience, sustainably designed lighting can promote feelings of comfort and security. This creates a positive experience, while helping to reduce carbon emissions and costs.”

“Peace of mind with any design specification is vital for anyone illuminating a challenging environment such as the railways. It’s often presumed that all lighting is responsibly sourced, secure, simple to install, easy to maintain, proven and sustainable. However, these fundamental things really have to be designed-in.” Explains Simon, an experienced designer and senior lighting specialist to the transport sector with more than 25 years in design, lighting and product & business development.

“We have a track record in doing just that at Designplan Lighting. With 60 years of application experience, we can tailor our vandal and weather-resistant luminaires to meet the specific challenges facing the railways to create the greatest customer and user experience possible. This also makes the installation far more sustainable with a lower whole life cost” claims Simon.

Illuminating Our Railways Sustainably

A New Approach Is Required

“We focus on the principles of good lighting and the 4S initiative (sustainability, satisfaction, safety and stewardship)” says Simon. “Leading on Transport for Designplan, it’s pretty clear there is big change and a huge amount of work to be done when it comes to successfully specifying lighting on the rail network”.

“Many railway assets have simply fallen out of compliance over the years. Due to poor maintenance, a result of some substandard contracts now being phased out by Network Rail. So, a lot of our focus is on retrofitting our installed luminaires, keeping the fitting in place, or complete redesigns.”

“There is a lot of work with Network Rail to bring lighting up to new standards, within a sustainable model. That is what we are seeing – demand for long-life lighting. We have the experience, as a company, to provide the solutions to hit the performance and future maintenance requirements of network assets for longer than ever before.”

“When it comes to lighting railways, we have an unrivalled wealth of experience and products with the three core values. These are, robustness and durability, service excellence and sustainability, all embedded in its product DNA.”

“Our luminaires are made from steel or aluminium with specialist polycarbonate diffusers. These can resist up to five times (250 joules) more impact than standard fittings (50 joules). High Ingress Protection (IP) ratings help minimise maintenance requirements.”

Lighting The Railway Sustainably
Lighting The Railway Sustainably
Lighting The Railway Sustainably
Lighting The Railway Sustainably

Customer Satisfaction

“We are getting a lot of attention from the likes of Network Rail and other rail organisations. Due to our robust fittings mean sustainable, long-life fittings,” said Simon. “They are designed to last for at least 30 years and crucially they can be updated, upgraded and fixed on-site. Therefore you don’t have that heavy carbon, heavy cost process of taking the product away and completely replacing it.”

“Our products offer a much more flexible approach. Their longevity ensures a lower OPEX and very good whole-life cost. This is vital to achieve Government sustainability targets. We are looking very closely at carbon targets and carbon measurements in the built environment so the whole-life cost and a low carbon footprint is our permanent focus as a robust manufacturer.”

Illuminating Our Railways Sustainably

Simon said: “We continue to be committed as a company to supporting the circular economy of lighting and illuminating our railways sustainably. Being a sustainable manufacturer is key to the future of the industry, as a whole. We are proving it’s possible to create lighting technology in a sustainable way.”

“Due to the robustness, our fittings can be permanently integrated into structures. A big focus for us across our sectors is allowing more complete lighting solutions and better architecture and user experiences.”

“We are constantly improving our environmental credentials. Our green certificate provides the embodied carbon in kilos of CO2e in our products. This uses the TM65 calculation methodology assessment, the most thorough representation. There have also been lots of discussions in the last 12 months to do with the product passport environmental statements regarding the background of the product, the manufacture of the product, the energy used to make the product, and where you source your components from.”

“We are in the process of delivering green certificates on all of our products on a TM65 basis. As well as working on things like plastic reduction in our packaging and bringing packaging back to our BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) excellent-rated factory in Sutton. We are using a lot of sustainable energy sources, including solar panels, low-energy machinery and rainwater harvesting.”

Illuminating Our Railways Sustainably

Stations Of The Future

Simon said: “We’re not just providing vandal-resistant luminaires and gear trays for LED retrofitting, but also state-of-the-art lighting control systems. It’s not as simple as putting in a few new luminaires to upgrade these networks; we are in a renaissance period. The future of station design is very bold, and I’ve seen a lot of things that show me what the vision is, and it is very exciting to see that.”

“The future station design guides, which are due to be released this year by Network Rail, focus heavily on using sustainable luminaires and also how you can integrate them into building structures. We will be continuing to work with engineers and consultants on ensuring we have what the market needs, as well as continuing to improve the efficiency and maintainability of our fittings.”

“We’ve released a couple of new products just in the last year based directly on market intel. This includes Redoubt, designed for rail maintenance pits, which was based on specific application needs and customer feedback resulting in one of the highest-performing pit lights on the market. Similarly, the Trackline bollard was designed with the customer to ensure driver walkways are effectively and safely illuminated, and earthed for OLE locations, without creating unnecessary spill. We will continue to look at developing long-life lighting products with our railway partners to meet their specific needs.”

“Everything we do is really about getting people to use the railway and decarbonising the transport network. Being part of developing such a major national asset and protecting the environment in the way that we are is hugely exciting and a real privilege. You feel like you are doing it for future generations whilst writing a bit of history.”

More Information

We have a long and proven track record in the rail industry , having recently provided luminaires to the likes of Glasgow Queen Street Station and various Elizabeth Line Stations among many others. To view our full archive, CLICK HERE

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