10 facts that show rail transport is on the right climate track

23. 04. 2020

We firmly expect that mobility and freight transport will ramp up again once the corona crisis has passed. If transport of the future traffic becomes much more climate-friendly and healthier, then we air quality will improve, noise pollution from traffic will decrease and we will have fewer traffic jams, whilst at the same time much greater mobility than today.

Rail freight transport plays a key role in achieving European climate and environmental goals. These 10 reasons demonstrate the advantages of rail transport:

1.   44x less CO2 than road transport – Although traffic-related greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise, we are continuously improving our carbon footprint. Rail freight transport in Austria saves more than one million tonnes of CO2 every single year.

2.   100% green traction current – The electricity used for rail freight transport in Austria is obtained entirely from renewable energy sources. Our train stations, offices, workshops and container cranes throughout Austria also run on green electricity. This saves us over 30,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

3.   6x less energy consumption with high performance – Heavy loads are transported by rail with our international transport services – with significantly lower energy consumption than road transport. 

4.   3x lower noise emissions – Rail freight only creates 1/3 of the noise in the freight transport industry. We are equipping all freight wagons in operation with new, quiet brake blocks, thereby reducing international noise emissions by another half. 

5.   6x lower external costs – Certified rail safety systems significantly reduce the external costs for noise protection, climate change, pollution and accidents. These even decrease to a factor of 9 when you include pre-carriage and onward carriage by rail.

6.   8x less air pollution – Rail freight transport accounts for 85x fewer deaths per year than the roads that are caused by air pollution and accidents. Rail freight transport therefore also significantly increases the safety of transport services. 


7.   Only one train driver is required for up to 50 trucks – Large quantities can be transported with just one person and this contributes to delivering goods sustainably and efficiently.

8.   No traffic jams at the borders – Our scheduled and regular rail connections mean goods can be transported on time and they avoid CO2 emissions when traffic is at a standstill, as at border crossings.

9.   Sustainable innovations in rail freight transport - Our sustainable investments in rail freight transport, such as the promotion of the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) throughout Europe, are paving the way for increasing energy efficiency in freight transport even more.

10.   Our contribution to Europe-wide climate neutrality – In order to shift increasing volumes of traffic to the rails, we are working intensively on increasing the share of rail freight transport in the modal split across Europe by 2030 to 30% as part of the Rail Freight Forward initiative and thus achieving European climate targets.

So let's get on track together!

Further information:

As a founding member of the European Rail Freight Forward initiative, an association of European freight railways, we have set ourselves the goal of increasing the share of rail freight transport in the modal split to 30% by 2030, thereby drastically reducing the negative effects of freight transport on the planet and mobility, through innovation and a more intelligent traffic mix.

To do this, it is necessary for railway companies to do their homework and invest in innovation and digitisation. Europe needs a uniform, efficient rail infrastructure with fair competitive conditions and price transparency between road and rail. Transport policy frameworks should also make railway undertakings across Europe faster, more modern and more customer-centred.

Info at: railfreightforward.com