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European Mobility Week

Choose a greener journey this European Mobility Week and travel by rail.

Did you know rail is one of the greenest forms of transport and that every train journey you take makes a difference to the environment?

For decades, rail has consistently produced by far the lowest total million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

A report published by the Department for Transport in 2018, Moving Britain Ahead, showed rail produced a total of two MtCO2e in 2016 – the same as in 1990.

This compared with …

Cars and taxis – 70.3 MtCO2e in 2016, compared with 72.3 MtCO2e in 1990

Domestic and international aviation – 35.5 MtCO2e in 2016, up from 17.1 MtCO2e in 1990

Heavy goods vehicles – 20.3 MtCO2e in 2016, compared with 20.5 in 1990

Infographic showing how rail travel emits far less carbon than other forms of travel

The European Environment Agency added last year that “rail travel is the best and most sensible mode of travel, apart from walking or cycling”. It said the emission impacts of aviation were much higher than those of rail travel when looked at on a passenger to kilometre basis. However, it noted flying was not necessarily the most harmful way to travel – it said travel by a car powered by petrol or diesel could be the most harmful, especially if travelling alone.

Read the report, Train or Plane.

Your train journey can help also help communities around your favourite destinations. For instance, about 40% of seaside town residents said they had concerns about increased road traffic if rail usage fell by 5% or 20%, according to a report published last year by trade body Rail Delivery Group.

Almost 60% ranked increased carbon emissions, reduction in air quality or harm to the natural environment and biodiversity as one of their top concerns if rail usage fell by a fifth.

Drone shot of the Barmouth viaduct and estuary, daytime

Clean energy

Meanwhile, we’re working hard to make running the railway as sustainable as possible.

In August we signed a solar power agreement with EDF Renewables UK to make the railway even cleaner and greener. The agreement will ensure enough solar energy to power 20,000 homes used in our offices, depots and railway stations across the country.

Last year, we joined railway organisations from around the world in signing the International Union of Railways (UIC) climate declaration. It sets out a pledge for members to communicate their support and ambition.

It also brings together a global community of sustainability leaders working collaboratively to cut carbon emissions and make rail travel greener.

We’ve committed to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The latter are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.

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