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Train can be worse for climate than plane

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  • Ian
    A report circulating under the heading Train can be worse for climate than plane , claims that when the full life-cycle emissions generated infrastructure,
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 11, 2009
      A report circulating under the heading "Train can be worse for climate than plane", claims that when the "full life-cycle" emissions generated infrastructure, fuel production and supply chains are compared, a train emits is more environmentally damaging than a plane.

      Many people will unfortunately simply read the headline and accept this conclusion. When you look beyond the headline, there are assumptions that 82% of the electricity needed for rail requires the burning of fossil fuels and that railway stations are constructed with concrete and have escalators and private car parking.

      The report states: "The production of cement for concrete in stations and truck transport of supplies for insurance operations are the underlying nonoperational causes for rail CO emissions. Large concrete requirements result in large CO emissions during cement production for station construction and maintenance."

      Perhaps these findings reflect the reality of today, but a more useful report should make its calculations based on how we should be building our stations. "Zero" energy buildings, that are not built with concrete already exist and there are plans for many more. It is "sustainable buildings" that this flawed analysis should be including, and the minimal emissions from them.

      I sit here wondering why the University of California wants to promote air travel and attack rail travel, despite the obvious flaws in their data. The title should be, "railway buildings need to reduce their environmental impact"


      Ian Perry


      The full report can be found at:
      http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/2/024008/erl9_2_024008.pdf?request-id=3815e0f1-f7ce-4b6f-a831-61401abb2477
    • Anzir Boodoo
      Ian, ... Something similar is doing the rounds with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) - assuming a 100% coal generation mix, and load
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 11, 2009
        Ian,
        On 11 Jun 2009, at 12:04, Ian wrote:

        > A report circulating under the heading "Train can be worse for
        > climate than plane", claims that when the "full life-cycle"
        > emissions generated infrastructure, fuel production and supply
        > chains are compared, a train emits is more environmentally damaging
        > than a plane.
        >

        Something similar is doing the rounds with the Chartered Institute of
        Logistics and Transport (UK) - assuming a 100% coal generation mix,
        and load factors averaging 40% (which will be well over double that on
        some trains) for train and 100% for plane, and ignoring radiative
        forcing, train comes out slightly worse than plane for London -
        Edinburgh.

        However, the fact this ignores so many variables mean this is a
        useless conclusion in my opinion - I made a submission on behalf of
        CILT(UK) a couple of months ago against the proposed expansion in
        capacity of our local airport (Leeds-Bradford), so keep an interest in
        this.

        --
        Anzir Boodoo MRes MILT Aff. IRO
        Policy Officer (West & North Yorkshire), The Chartered Institute of
        Logistics and Transport (UK)
      • Anzir Boodoo
        Ian, ... Something similar is doing the rounds with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) - assuming a 100% coal generation mix, and load
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 11, 2009
          Ian,
          On 11 Jun 2009, at 12:04, Ian wrote:

          > A report circulating under the heading "Train can be worse for
          > climate than plane", claims that when the "full life-cycle"
          > emissions generated infrastructure, fuel production and supply
          > chains are compared, a train emits is more environmentally damaging
          > than a plane.
          >

          Something similar is doing the rounds with the Chartered Institute of
          Logistics and Transport (UK) - assuming a 100% coal generation mix,
          and load factors averaging 40% (which will be well over double that on
          some trains) for train and 100% for plane, and ignoring radiative
          forcing, train comes out slightly worse than plane for London -
          Edinburgh.

          However, the fact this ignores so many variables mean this is a
          useless conclusion in my opinion - I made a submission on behalf of
          CILT(UK) a couple of months ago against the proposed expansion in
          capacity of our local airport (Leeds-Bradford), so keep an interest in
          this.

          --
          Anzir Boodoo MRes MILT Aff. IRO
          Policy Officer (West & North Yorkshire), The Chartered Institute of
          Logistics and Transport (UK)
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