Why is rail so environmentally friendly?

Mobility is a prerequisite for the exchange of goods, employment and prosperity. Efficient transport systems are therefore essential. Transport, however, has an impact on climate, environment and health.

Transport needs energy. It mainly uses diesel, petrol, kerosene and electricity as energy sources. The average energy consumption per transport volume (energy used to transport goods is expressed in megajoules per tonne-kilometre (MJ/tkm)) has fallen in recent decades, most sharply in rail transport. The declines in energy consumption per transport volume are mainly due to technical improvements in the vehicles. Another reason is the increase in capacity utilisation rates. Nevertheless, traffic growth compensated for technical improvements and there was an increase in absolute total energy consumption in freight transport. As far as carbon dioxide emissions are concerned, emissions from rail transport and combined transport are between 20% and 50% lower than those from road transport alone.

The issue of noise is becoming increasingly important for all modes of transport, including rail freight. Possible noise mitigation measures include noise reduction along the route and on the vehicles.