Friday, September 19, 2008

Benefit of Railroad Transport

In addition to cost competitiveness and efficiency, freight railroads offer huge public benefits.
First, they have major advantages in energy efficiency over other modes. On average, railroads are three times more fuel efficient than trucks, and railroad fuel efficiency is improving all the time. In 1980, U.S. railroads moved a ton of freight an average of 235 miles per gallon of fuel. In 2002, the comparable figure was 404 miles, a 72 percent increase.

Second, railroads are environmentally friendly. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that for every ton-mile, a typical truck emits roughly three times more nitrogen oxides and particulates than a locomotive. Other studies suggest trucks emit six to 12 times more pollutants per ton-mile than do railroads, depending on the pollutant measured. Railroads also have a clear advantage in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, railroads account for just 9 percent of total transportation-related NOx emissions and 4 percent of transportation-related particulate emissions, even though they account for 42 percent of the nation's intercity freight ton-miles.
Third, freight railroads significantly alleviate highway congestion. A single intermodal train takes up to 280 trucks (equivalent to more than 1,100 cars) off our highways; a train carrying other types of freight takes up to 500 trucks off our highways. Overcrowded highways act as an "inefficiency tax" on our economy, seriously constraining economic growth. Freight railroads help relieve this restriction by reducing gridlock, enhancing mobility, and reducing the pressure to build costly new highways.
Fourth, railroads have major safety advantages over other modes. For example, railroads are the safest way to transport hazardous materials. Railroads and trucks carry roughly equal hazmat ton-mileage, but trucks have nearly 16 times more hazmat releases than railroads.

No comments: