Positions 21 Sep 2020

Alternative fuels and powertrains

Due to the high degree of electrification, railways, as the existing green mode of transport, are able to offer almost zero-carbon train operations in Europe. Today, diesel accounts for only around 20% of EU rail traction (specified in tonne-km and passenger-km). European railways are committed to gradually phase out EU rail diesel traction by 2050.

Railways are indeed key to EU transport decarbonisation, challenging themselves to maximise their contribution to the EU Green Deal, which requires a 90% reduction in transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. In order to achieve the vast decarbonisation and zero-pollution ambition envisaged in the EU Green Deal, European railways would exploit potential alternative fuels and powertrains. 

In this context, European railways request that the European Commission includes the railway sector when revising Directive 2014/04/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFID). Railways’ decarbonisation efforts should be included in the EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen.

This paper summarises the sector’s approach regarding alternative fuels and powertrains whilst underlining the related needs.