Rail freight produces 6 times less CO2 than truck

In 2018, an average freight train emitted around 18 grams of carbon dioxide per tonne-kilometer. The emissions of an average truck were much higher: 112 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The Umweltbundesamt, the environmental department of the German government, made this calculation.

The train is therefore a factor of six “cleaner” than the truck, the German department concluded. It is grist to the mill of the Allianz pro Schiene, which is promoting rail transport of goods in Germany.

Best year ever

According to the Umweltbundesamt, rail freight emitted fewer climate gases per tonne-kilometer in 2018 than ever before. The calculations are based on the average “flow mix” that is used to drive a freight train. That can still be electricity generated in coal-fired power stations, but also electricity from much more environmentally-friendly power stations.

According to Dirk Fiege, director of Allianz pro Schiene, this shows once again that politics must continue to stimulate rail freight more strongly. According to him, wherever possible the transport of cargo should be by rail, at least for a large part of the route. Inland shipping also performs relatively well in terms of CO2 emissions, with 34 grams per tonne-kilometer.

Author: Folkert Nicolai

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