Environmental Gains: 2/3 less fuel, pollution & greenhouse gasses

Shipping by rail instead of truck reduces pollution (on average) by two-thirds, noise by one half, uses only 29% of the fuel and produces only 23% as much greenhouse gasses.

In 2009, U.S. freight railroads moved a ton of freight an average of 480 miles per gallon (up from 436 in 2007).  Rail fuel efficiency is up 104 percent since 1980, thanks to more efficient locomotives, reduced idleing, and improved train-handling techniques.  Greenhouse gas emissions are directly related to fuel consumption.

44% of greenhouse gasses in Vermont are produced by transportation (nationally, it's 28%). Nationally, freight railroads produced 0.7% of greenhouse gas emissions, despite hauling 43% of freight ton-miles.  Trucks produced 5.7% of greenhouse gasses and automobiles, 20% (automobiles are 64% of the transportation contribution nationally to greenhouse gasses).

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Energy consumption facts (from National Association of Rail Passengers):

·         The U.S. transportation system is 96% petroleum dependent, accounts for 71% of the country’s oil use, and consumes 25% of the world’s net output.           

·         Amtrak is 30% more energy efficient than cars, and 20% more efficient than air travel (based on BTUs per passenger mile)

·         Public transportation saves the U.S. 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline every year—more than three times the annual amount imported from Kuwait.

·         U.S. motorists’ fuel consumption alone accounts for eleven percent (11%) of the world’s total oil production.

·         Trains are the only mode which can run on electricity over long distances at high speeds.

New Locomotives will be even more green.  New standards will cut particulate emissions by up to
90 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80 percent.

Most of the facts on this page come from the American Association of Railroads

See also this Wall Street Journal article: Railroads Roll with a Greener Approach (5/29/08)

Factcheck.org on Energy efficiency of freight rail: http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/can_a_freight_train_really_move_a.html

Freight Rail Carbon Calculator from the American Association of Railroads

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