The environmental benefits of rail as a major player in a sustainable transport policy are generally accepted and understood, but are not always spelt out as loudly and clearly as they might be.
The recent White Paper provides an opportunity for doing just this, stressing the contribution that rail can make to the environment by causing least impact, and also by the scope which exists for integrating rail with environmentally friendly activities such as walking and cycling.
This is an area to which RDS would like to devote greater effort in the future. A higher environmental profile would bring benefits to the society.
Not only can a vigorous case for rail clearly be made on environmental criteria but there is scope for RDS to play a more prominent role in encouraging the integration of rail services with provisions for walking and cycling as part of green commuter plans and also helping to promote rail travel for leisure and recreation as one of the most sustainable ways of exploring the countryside.
This would entail undertaking research, and also publicising awareness of those special services, leisure tickets and rail packages already in operation in various parts of the country as part of initiatives which are sometimes referred to as green tourism.
In doing all this we would need to work more closely with other environmental bodies such as the Ramblers Association, the Cyclist Touring Club. Sustrans and Friends of the Earth.
To enable RDS to expand its involvement in environmental matters we would therefore be very interested to hear from any members with any background, special interest or expertise to offer.
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