InnoTrans 2012: Railways improve environmental performance

New generation of locomotives puts the brakes on energy consumption

The rail transport sector steadily increased its environmental performance from 2000 to 2011. This is the conclusion reached by the latest data from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which are regularly updated by the Heidelberg IFEU Institute for the “Environment and Transport“ database and published in a user-friendly way on behalf of the German Railway Industry Association (VDB) and the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV). The boost in energy efficiency is the rail transport sector’s way of showing how mobility can be designed in times of scarcer and more expensive petroleum, said the three major railway industry associations at the InnoTrans trade fair on Thursday in Berlin.

Ronald Pörner, Managing Director of the German Railway Industry Association (VDB), pointed out that railway traffic has consistently improved its environmental performance, and that that also applies to diesel locomotives. “Just like motor vehicles, diesel locomotives pollute the environment with emissions from combustion engines. Diesel emissions can be reduced just by replacing 600 of the most emissions-intensive locomotives in Germany with new, energy-efficient vehicles of the youngest generation such as those which German train manufacturers are presenting at the world’s largest industry trade fair InnoTrans in Berlin. carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 21 per cent, nitrous oxides by 71 per cent, and soot particles by 97 per cent.” Because of this unmistakable environmental effect, new low-emissions vehicles should now quickly be added to the fleet, demanded Pörner. However, financing, for smaller railway transportation companies in particular, would amount to a barrier to investment. “An environmental prize awarded at government level, however, might well act as a catalyst. The process of rejuvenating the nearly 3,000 diesel locomotives in Germany would be accelerated and the burden on the environment relieved. Society would also benefit greatly“, said Pörner.

Pro-Rail Alliance (Allianz pro Schiene) pointed out that transport must continue to be affordable in the future for both the industry and the public. “Consumer prices for transportation have risen much more quickly in recent years than the overall cost of living in Germany,” said Dirk Flege, managing director of Allianz pro Schiene. “One main reason for the disproportionate rise in mobility costs is the high prices in the energy sector,“ said Flege. “We are therefore presuming that energy efficiency in the transport sector will be a key factor determining which transport carrier takes the lead.” Flege indicated that about 90 percent of railway transport is already electricity-powered in Germany. The advantage of rail transport also makes money sense given rising costs: the low rolling resistance of today’s wheel/rail system is already many times more efficient than the rivals’ on the road, said Flege. The railways are twice as energy-efficient in the passenger transport sector than motor vehicles. Rail freight transport is nearly four times more efficient than road freight transport.

The Managing Director of the Railway Transport Division at VDV, Martin Henke, stressed that rail freight is miles ahead of road freight in terms of CO2 emissions, saying, “In a comparison of transport modes, the railway system is superior to road transport in terms of climate protection by a factor of 4.5.” The lead over passenger cars has also increased. “The railways are ahead of passenger cars by a factor of two-and-a-half”, said Henke. “The results of the environmental study disprove the widespread prejudice that heavy goods vehicles and passenger cars make up ground on the climate score“, said Henke.

Growth forecasts, in the freight transport sector in particular, speak clearly in favour of the further expansion of the rail transport system. This also requires enlarging the track network. Noise is the railways’ weak spot. “Noise annoyance to the population may not continue to grow; if we fail in this, we will face massive problems when it comes to the necessary expansion of rail infrastructure”, said Uwe Brendle, Head of Unit “Transport and Noise” at the Federal Environment Agency.

The Umwelt & Verkehr joint database of the three railway associations represents processing of so-called TREMOD data from the Federal Environment Agency in Dessau-Roßlau. The database provides comprehensive and quick information about specific emissions and consumption levels for the modes of transport road, rail, ship and aviation. It contains 8,800 data records on freight transport and passenger transport in Germany for the time period 1995-2010. The environmental study on road and rail transport in 1995-2011 which was presented today serves as advance information on the update for all modes of transport which is scheduled for publication in autumn 2012.

Allianz pro Schiene e.V.
The Allianz pro Schiene e.V. (Pro-Rail Alliance) is a German umbrella organisation which aims to promote environmentally friendly and safe rail transport. The alliance unites 18 non-profit organisations: the environmental associations Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), Deutsche Umwelthilfe and NaturFreunde Deutschlands, the consumer associations Pro Bahn, DBV und VCD, the automobile clubs ACE and ACV, the two railway trade unions EVG and GDL, the conference for ecumenical railway missions, the railway associations BDEF, BF Bahnen, VBB and VDEI, and the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau. The membership associations represent more than 2 million individual members. The railway umbrella organisation receives support from more than 100 firms in the railway industry.

German Railway Industry Association (VDB)
The railway industry association represents the interests of more than 160 firms which include both global market leaders and specialised medium-size companies. VDB members develop and produce systems and components for railway vehicles and infrastructure which employ more than 50,000 workers in Germany. Their technology supplies excellent and profitable rail systems worldwide for more sustainable rail transport.

Association of German Transport Companies (VDV)
The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) is the organisation of over 600 public passenger transport and rail freight companies. Buses and trains transport the equivalent the passenger volume of more than 18 million car trips and 77,000 fully loaded heavy goods vehicles daily. VDV and its member companies are helping to keep Germany sustainably mobile!

Dessau-Roßlau, 20 September 2012

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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