National Railway Museum aims for zero carbon

Design concept for the National Railway Museum's Central Hall.

The National Railway Museum has declared that it has adopted an ambitious target of achieving Net Zero by 2033. This target commits the museum, part of the Science Museum group, to change the way it works to achieve a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

This will see changes to the way the museum operates, from introducing small but significant day-to-day measures such as reducing food waste in the museum’s cafés, to the design and build of the museum’s new masterplan galleries and buildings.  

The new Central Hall building, scheduled to open in 2025, will dramatically reduce reliance on concrete and steel by creating a timber frame structure. A combination of passive design principles and active systems, including the use of recycled copper, will reduce the National Railway Museum’s operational carbon footprint by 80 per cent.  

Judith McNicol, National Railway Museum

Judith McNicol, director of the National Railway Museum, said: “Vision 2025 is our £55 million transformation to become the world’s railway museum. It is a once in a generation opportunity to connect the past with the present and to inspire the innovators and problem-solvers of the future and it is only right that environmental sustainability is embedded into this journey. It colours and informs our approach for design, construction, operation and engagement. 

“Achieving Net Zero will benefit our visitors and the wider local community and our response is driven by a sense of urgency and purpose: to think big and to leave a positive legacy for those who follow.”

The museum’s commitment to sustainability will not affect on-site train rides or the operation of steam locomotives such as Flying Scotsman at heritage railways and on the main line. It believes that working steam locomotives are positive ambassadors for the museum and can significantly enhance the visitor experience. According to current estimates, the operation of rail vehicles accounts for just three per cent of the Group’s overall carbon footprint.

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