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Are Railways Climate Friendly?

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Abstract:

Rail is usually considered a green mode of passenger transport, at least greener than the car and plane in terms of its relative impact on climate change. It is therefore only natural that rail will play an increasing role in meeting demand for transport when the aim is to reduce environmental pollution associated with transport operation. Yet, referring to rail as green has many limitations and can be misleading. In this context, the paper aims to examine the environmental impact from rail transport and to show how the above generalization depends on many different factors. Attention is focused on comparing different trains (e.g. diesel vs. electric, and in the latter examining how environmental impacts depend on the sources used to generate the electricity) and different modes (train vs. car and plane). The paper also examines the scope for improving the environmental performance of rail through technical and operational measures. The paper concludes by identifying how and where rail can play a role in achieving a more sustainable transport system.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2148/benv.35.1.70

Publication date: 2009-03-01

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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