Green Mile Tunnel, Photo: Wikimedia

How Green Is Railway?

How environmental-friendly is railway? Here are environmental facts about railway transportation:

What’s the share of transportation in CO2 emissions?

It’s 27% in EU27. Second in the list after energy production (34%)1.

And what’s the share of emissions of railways in all transportation modes?

It’s 1%, where trucks have a share of 72%, sea/river has 15% and air has 12%1.

But the emissions must be decreasing by time?

Yes, except transportation.  From 1990 to 2007, in EU15 countries, big decline in CO2 emissions from wastes, agriculture and industry, and slight decrease in energy production, but 26% increase in transportation2 had been seen.

Maybe the big share of trucks is because of big share in transportation?

Let’s compare the emissions for 100 to load from Basel to Rotterdam (700 km). It’s 4.7 to with Euro4 trucks, 2.4 to with barge and 0.6 to with train (including emission during production of electricity)3.

What about passenger transportation?

The emission for 1 passenger traveling from Berlin to Frankfurt (545 km) is 98kg by car, 85kg by plane and 26kg by train4.

What about diesel trains? Electric locomotives are not available all over the world.

The diesel consumption for transporting 100 to load from Basel to Rotterdam is 1779 liters for truck, 911 liters for barge and 770 liters for trains with diesel loco3.

Does electric locos worth using?

Yes, it’s the future. Here’s the energy costs in Turkey for transporting 100 to load to 1000 km away : 4570 TL for truck, 2927 TL for diesel train, 680 TL for electric train5.

Ok. Trains cause less CO2. But as everybody learns in primary school, it is not toxic. With more trees we can afford.

Yes not toxic for people, but toxic for the world. It’s greenhouse gas, and causing climate change. Furthermore, it’s not only CO2, but also carbon monoxide, hydro carbon, azot oxide and particles.  And they are very dangerous indeed.

How dangerous can they be?

24000 people dead every year in England because of air pollution. Railway share is 7% in England, where CO share is 0.2% and HC share is 1%6.

Could you be more specific?

During the transportation of 100 to load from Basel to Rotterdam, the emission of particles with truck is 11 times, hydro carbon is 34 times and azod oxide is 36 times more compared with train3.

But we cannot construct railway to everywhere. It’s expensive.

Not more than highways. Highway cost six times of railway costs.

But it’s not fair. Highways must have more capacity?

Not really. Let’s compare them in terms of passenger capacity. In 1 mt wide infrastructure, you can transport 200 passengers/hour by car, 1500 by bus, 5200 by metrobus and 9000 by rail7.

But probably rail has bigger indirect costs?

The social cost paid by government for precautions and services  for accidents, congestion, noise, air pollution and climate change in EU15+Switzerland+Norway is 698 billion € for roads and 6.2 billion € for rail8.

Still think that automobiles look great, trains do not.

Sure? Check this.🙂

Photo: Wikimedia

1 International Union of Railways www.uic.org

2 European Environment Agency www.eea.europa.eu

3 www.ecotransit.org

4 www.ecopassanger.org

5 TCDD Annual Statistics Book 2010

6 The Railway Forum

7 United Nations Environment Programme www.unep.fr

8 www.infras.ch

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