Facts & figures 16 Sep 2015

Rail transport and environment: facts & figures

2015 is a big year for climate change policy, for which transport still presents a major challenge. The new booklet, jointly published by CER and UIC, aims to support decision makers with comprehensive data on the environmental impact of the different transport modes. It demonstrates that rail is an enabling factor for sustainable mobility because:

  • travelling by rail is on average 3-10 times less CO2 intensive compared with road or air transport;
  • rail’s share of transport energy consumption is less than 2% despite a market share of over 8.5%;
  • land use per passenger-km for rail is about 3.5 times lower than for cars;
  • rail’s average external costs (i.e. the costs of the negative effects of transport, such as air pollution, that are not paid by the users themselves but borne by the society at large) are more than four times less than road’s for passenger services, and more than six times less for freight services.

In order to drive continued improvement of rail’s environmental footprint, CER and UIC’s European members have agreed targets until 2030 and a vision for sustainable mobility until 2050. These targets, adopted in 2010, have now been updated with increased ambition for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and are presented in the booklet.