Chiltern Railways grew its social value contribution by more than £250 million in 2023.

The latest Social Value Report released by the train operator measures its impact on communities through economic activity, social connections, and environmental protection from encouraging public transport use.

The independent review was conducted by transport consultants, Steer, through an Economic Impact Assessment.

It revealed that Chiltern increased its annual social value contribution by £284.5 million, totalling £1.3 billion.

Oxford Mail: Chiltern Railways' total social value contribution is now £1.3 billionChiltern Railways' total social value contribution is now £1.3 billion (Image: Chiltern Railways)

This includes £41.8 million from colleague salaries, £181.6 million in supply chain spend, and £155.5 million from wider economic impact.

The figures also reflect a 'catalytic impact' of £963.8 million, accounting for long-term social, economic, and environmental benefits provided by Chiltern's services to both customers and society at large.

This includes faster travel times, reduced congestion and lower CO2 emissions compared to other modes of transport.

HR and corporate affairs director Vanessa Russell said: "I am proud of the economic and social impact Chiltern is delivering across communities on our route and the rest of the UK.

"We care passionately about delivering easier, greener and better services for our customers, as well as delivering projects that provide economic and social opportunities for local people."

Chiltern colleagues live and contribute to the economies of 58 of the UK’s 121 postcode areas.

Supply chain activity is also spread across the width and breadth of the country, from the northeast of Scotland to the West Midlands.

The train operator also initiated the Community Investment Fund last year to aid non-profit organisations and charities across the route.

The fund focuses on projects that economically benefit locals and encourage volunteering opportunities for them as well as those which deliver environmental benefits such as promoting active travel links or biodiversity.

The operator has provided £126,000 to 12 projects this year, including rail confidence sessions for refugees and survivors of modern slavery in the West Midlands, and new active travel trails at Bicester North and Banbury stations.

Ms Russell added: "This is exemplified in our community activity, from delivering £120,000 of funding through our Community Investment Fund in 2023 to actively engaging with over 100 volunteers to deliver gardening, artwork and wider community engagement projects at our stations."

The company's Right Route 2030 Vision plans to replace diesel trains with low carbon battery or hybrid trains, which could bring up to £25.3 million worth of extra social value to communities whilst preventing the emission of 16,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

A new fleet of trains that boosts capacity could allow Chiltern to increase their customer numbers from 20 million in 2023 to around 30 million, potentially contributing a further £477.7 million in economic, social and environmental impact.