Mobility is a key element of the European Green Deal because, without the decarbonisation of transport, Europe’s climate ambitions cannot be met. The transport sector accounts for nearly one-quarter of Europe’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also the only sector whose emissions have increased since 1990.
Within transport, rail stands out as the exception – it’s the only mode of transport which has reduced its emissions, while increasing passenger and freight volumes AND improving its energy efficiency.
All of this translates to rail generating three to four times less carbon than road or air transport! But we’re not standing still.
As you can see, our industry is investing in innovation to go even greener!
Reducing emissions by 30% by 2030
Europe’s rail sector has pledged to reduce total carbon emissions for passenger and freight transport by 30% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), European railways are on track to meet and even outperform this target! Green electricity also increasingly powers rail in Europe with the industry committed to eliminating the use of fossil fuels by 2050.
Increasing energy efficiency
Our industry has made impressive gains in energy efficiency by unlocking the potential of digitally integrated and smart rail. Collaborative research in the EU-funded Shift2Rail programme has enabled key transformations on this journey. We’re proud to continuously roll-out more energy-efficient stock to deliver on Europe’s climate commitments.
Improving material recyclability
Our industry is constantly modernising fleets, seeking circularity at every turn. Companies are finding all sorts of innovative ways to reuse and retool components instead of sending them to landfill. We’ve achieved impressive results with recycled plastic, for instance, and rubber collected from tyres. These innovations have not only reduced waste, but also noise pollution among other benefits.
Reducing sound and vibrations
Although train noise is much less intrusive than noise from road vehicles and aircraft, the rail sector is committed to further reducing noise and vibrations. The industry is working to retrofit freight wagons with composite brake blocks, for instance, that considerably reduce noise emissions. We’re also supportive of the noise differentiated tracks with access charges proposed by the European Commission.
Hop on to the resources below for more information and insights.
- Joint Statement of the rail sector on the forthcoming Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility
- UNIFE Vision Paper on Urban Mobility
- Together we will make rail the driver of Europe’s green future
- CER – EIM – UNIFE Joint Position Paper: EU strategy for long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions – the crucial role of rail
- European industry set to embrace Green Deal
- Innovative rail policy needed to decarbonise European transport
- There has never been a greater urgency to invest in urban rail
- Riding the rails together: UNIFE and the Green Deal
- Transport sector must be adapted to the climate crisis