Sustainable Ownership

Sustainable Ownership is our approach to incorporating sustainability issues, like climate change or executive pay, into the investments Railpen manages on your behalf.

What is Sustainable Ownership?

Sustainable Ownership describes how we: include environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in our investment analysis, consider market-wide issues and risks, make use of our voting rights and engage with companies we invest in – all of which helps us to secure our members’ futures. 

We use every tool at our disposal to encourage companies to act responsibly and address the impact of governance and sustainability issues, not only on their business operations, but also on the world our members retire into. We think investing like this is the best way to protect and increase the value of your savings, giving you a good retirement outcome.

A footprint made from green foliage

We talk to companies about the ESG topics that are specific to them, but also focus on major ESG issues that affect either all or many of the companies we invest in. Collaboration with other investors, including other pension funds, is central to our approach to ensure our work is as effective as possible.

We apply Sustainable Ownership principles to all our investments, whether in:

  • companies listed on a stock exchange, or ‘listed equities’
  • infrastructure assets, such as energy or telecoms, or;
  • private debt - lending money to companies that aren’t listed on a stock exchange
Did you know?
Sustainable Ownership looks at environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, such as:
  • climate change
  • fair pay, including executive pay 
  • fair treatment of workers
Why does it matter to members?

You, and your employer both pay contributions while you’re an active member of the railways pension schemes. These contributions are then invested in different ways, including in companies and brands you care about. We do this to achieve the investment returns needed to give you an income in retirement.

We believe in investing pension contributions in companies that are well-run, and that seek to address all the risks and opportunities related to how their business works, including environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. This is because evidence shows that well-run, responsible companies thrive and perform better in the long run.

Our members don't retire into a pension fund, but the world and local communities around them. This means we have a duty to engage and collaborate in a meaningful way to drive positive outcomes for them. Even before you receive your pension, the way we invest and manage contributions plays a major part in supporting a more sustainable future for all of us.

So, your contributions are working hard to secure your financial future but while they’re doing this, they’re also helping to drive change in the world.

Railpen's role as an industry leader

As the manager of one of the UK’s largest pension schemes, we take our responsibilities seriously and work hard to lead the industry on Sustainable Ownership.

The scale of our assets allows Railpen to benefit from an expert in-house Sustainable Ownership team, which works closely with others across Railpen. This team is dedicated to undertaking Sustainable Ownership in a way that positively impacts the value of your savings and income in retirement. 

Our Sustainable Ownership work has been recognised by industry peers, with awards including:

  • IPE Award for best ESG Approach 2021
  • IPE Award for Investment Innovation 2022
  • IPE Award for Carbon and Net Zero Strategies 2022
  • Professional Pensions ESG Manager of the Year 2022 (Highly Commended)

It all helps to protect your future and the world's future

We believe that investing like this is the best way to protect the value of your savings, and in doing so can also have a real impact on the world that you retire into.

You can read more about how Sustainable Ownership has been put into practice so far at Railpen in our Sustainable Ownership Member Review 2022 and in our blogs.

You can let us know what you think about Sustainable Ownership anytime, by emailing

The information provided on this website is intended for general information and illustrative purposes. Your benefits will be worked out in accordance with and subject to the governing trust deed and rules and relevant legislation.

Although every effort has been made to ensure the information given on this website is accurate, none of the information provided can give you, or your beneficiaries, legal rights to benefits that differ from those provided in the pension trust and rules.

We recommend that you get independent financial or specialist advice before making any important decisions about your pension arrangements

Read more about the work we do in our Sustainable Ownership case studies...

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