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National Railway Museum announces net zero target ahead of May reopening

Sustainability will be at the heart of Vision 2025 masterplan projects.

Today the National Railway Museum, and the Science Museum Group, announced an ambitious target to achieve Net Zero by 2033, reinforcing its commitment to put sustainability at the heart of the organisation.

Building on the Group’s Sustainability Policy, this target commits the museum 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 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, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: “Vision 2025 is our £55m 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.”

Alongside putting sustainability at the heart of the organisation’s work, the museum will focus on sustainability and climate change in its public programme throughout 2021.

Available to book from today are the latest talks for the Science Museum Group’s global event series Climate Talks which aim to lead public engagement with climate science in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. 

Since launching in January, over 20,000 people worldwide have booked a free ticket or watched an event online, with speakers so far ranging from legendary conservationist Dr Jane Goodall and economist Sir Partha Dasgupta to astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman, musician Brian Eno and Bollywood star Dia Mirza. 

Streamed online to connect with an expanding global audience, the talks bring together a diverse, distinguished line up of international speakers to confront the most pressing issues around climate science and explore which innovations can really make a difference. 

Topics for the next wave of events range from the clean energy revolution to how our oceans are responding to climate change, with speakers including journalist Anushka Asthana, Malawian inventor and author William Kamkwamba, The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Former President of the Republic of Kiribati Anote Tong, and many more. Find out more.

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. 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 3% of the Group’s overall carbon footprint.

The National Railway Museum will reopen its doors to the public on Wednesday 19 May 2021.

More information will be announced later this month, but visitors will be asked to book online in advance and follow social distancing. Tickets will be available from 26 April. Visit for further details. 


For more information, please contact Simon Baylis (01904 686 299 /
Pete Livesey (01904 809 646 /

About the National Railway Museum

  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and prior to Covid-19, attracted more than 750,000 visitors per year
  • The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals and railway uniform, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs
  • The museum holds an archive of over 1400 sound items and 16 boxes of papers and photographic material from pioneering sound recordist Peter Handford
  • The National Railway Museum is temporarily closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • The National Railway Museum is part of the Science Museum Group of national museums which includes Locomotion in Shildon, the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester and the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford
  • For more information about Sustainability and the Science Museum Group:
  • To help achieve Net Zero, the Group has signed up to the respected Science-based Target Initiative to tackle both its direct emissions and those in its supply chain

Part of the Science Museum Group