Our rail network maintenance and development operations are aimed at ensuring rational use of natural resources and minimising the negative impact of activities on the environment in all its features (landscape, urban, hydrogeological, etc.).
Through a nationwide presence, involving both our staff and our suppliers, we are able to maintain constant dialogue and collaboration with the main stakeholders in environmental matters (government and local authorities), to encourage dialogue with associations and bodies representing passengers and the community, and to promote coordination with other FS Group companies.
The areas of potential impact on the environment vary according to the type of work carried out, i.e. whether they involve the construction of new railway infrastructure or the maintenance and operation of existing infrastructure. All activities are carried out in such a way as to prevent negative impacts; if prevention is not feasible, we put in place the most appropriate mitigation measures.
In order to identify technical and managerial solutions aimed at making our infrastructure environmentally sustainable, we have started collaborating with research bodies, with national and foreign organisations, as well as with other European Infrastructure Managers. The aim of this is to develop product and process innovations that, by guaranteeing the highest standards of quality and safety, help reduce the impact on the environment through an efficient use of natural resources.
We carry out our industrial activities mainly using energy sources such as electricity, diesel, methane and, to a lesser extent, LPG, petrol and energy from district heating.
With reference to electricity, we are one of the largest purchasers on the Italian market (about 2% of the national electricity consumption), in order to carry out the industrial activities typical of RFI's activities and guarantee the circulation of trains on the electrified network of the National Railway Infrastructure.
We are strongly proactive towards the development and application of process and product innovations that, while guaranteeing the highest standards of safety and quality, ensure the continuous improvement of the energy efficiency of the maintenance and development activities of the railway network.
We have initiated a virtuous path aimed at increasing the component of renewable energy sources (RES) in our energy mix, both through the purchase of a portion of electricity from RES and through the promotion of technologies that exploit natural energy sources.
The proper management of water resources is an important part of the natural resources we use. From the end of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century, we developed an internal aqueduct network necessary to guarantee the supply of large quantities of water for uses related to steam traction, drinking water for travellers and for the hygiene and sanitary needs of personnel. With the evolution of the network's operating model, which has seen the gradual decommissioning of steam trains, the need has emerged to start a process aimed at optimising water consumption, through the launch of programmes to improve efficiency and monitor consumption, which have also led to the development of plans for decommissioning and transferring bodies of water that are no longer functional to railway operations.
With a view to the circular economy, we have also launched experimental projects aimed at recovering and reusing the water used in the washing stalls of two workshops for washing vehicles.
The maintenance of the railway infrastructure and the construction of new works require the use of considerable quantities of construction materials and the production of demolition material, which in our case consists mainly of excavated soil and rocks and removed railway ballast. In order to ensure the proper management of the natural resources used, we have developed a comprehensive materials management system that, from the design to the execution phase, also provides for reuse wherever possible and in compliance with safety standards.
The most commonly used materials include excavated earth and rocks for network development activities and, for maintenance activities, mainly ballast for railway ballast and steel for track and rail technology systems.
In order to enable the proper management of materials, we have developed a system of material reuse to reduce, upstream, the supply of materials and, downstream, the production of waste. Only if the material used does not have the necessary characteristics to be managed as an asset or by-product is it managed as waste.
In order to contain and reduce the environmental impact of our activities, we have initiated a number of projects with a view to the circular economy.
The framework law on noise no. 447/95 requires companies and bodies that manage public transport services or related infrastructure to implement noise containment and reduction plans if the limits are exceeded, according to the directives issued by the Minister of the Environment Ministerial Decree of 29/11/2000.
As Manager of the national railway infrastructure, we carry out a specific "noise abatement plan" based on the criteria established by the Environment Ministerial Decree of 29/11/2000 on existing infrastructure only, to contain noise if the limit values established for railway infrastructure by Presidential Decree 459/98 are exceeded.
For all new infrastructure, as well as for doubling or upgrading existing infrastructure the measures to contain the noise resulting from the passage of trains in operation are carried out at the same time as the other works on the basis of the projects approved and defined also in relation to the acoustic zoning of the area crossed. These containment measures, on receptors, on the propagation path and at the source, are also adopted during the infrastructure construction phase. On the other hand, the acoustic mitigation measures connected with the construction/enhancement of infrastructural works, for which Italferr plays the role of technical body/high supervision/work direction, are implemented by the contractors/general contractors.