Report includes a central focus on India, where rail is the dominant mode of transport
Rail is among the most energy efficient modes of transport for freight and passengers, yet is often neglected in public debate, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) prepared in cooperation with UIC.
In 2018, UIC actively contributed to “The Future of Rail” report and was glad to host a successful key workshop to develop that report, in September 2018 in Paris.
The Future of Rail is the latest in the IEA series shining a light on “blind spots” in the energy system, which are issues that deserve more attention from policymakers. It was released today in New Delhi by IEA Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol, at an event opened by India’s Minister of Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal.
The transport sector is responsible for almost one-third of final energy demand, nearly two-thirds of oil demand and nearly one-quarter of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion. Therefore changes in transportation are fundamental to achieving energy transitions globally. While the rail sector carries 8% of the world’s passengers and 7% of global freight transport, it represents only 2% of total transport energy demand, highlighting its efficiency.
“The rail sector can provide substantial benefit to the energy sector as well as the environment,” said Dr Fatih Birol. “By diversifying energy sources and providing more efficient mobility, rail can lower transport energy use and reduce carbon dioxide and local pollutant emissions.”
Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC, was honoured to be invited to speak at this event as UIC and IEA successfully cooperated throughout the year 2018.
Mr Loubinoux stated that: “It is recognised that the sustainable development goals for the global railway sector are achievable, such as: rail as the safest mode of transport, rail reduces congestion, rail improves access to mobility, railway companies are responsible and attractive employers (rail is the largest employer in India) and last but not least rail has a low impact on the environment and climate change.”
The Future of Rail includes a Base Scenario that projects the evolution of the railway sector to 2050 on the basis of announced policies, regulations and projects. It also includes a High Rail Scenario to demonstrate the energy and environmental benefits of a more significant shift of passengers and goods to rail transport. While the High Rail Scenario requires about 60% more investment than in the Base Scenario, global CO2 emissions from a transport peak in the late 2030s, air pollution is reduced and oil demand is lowered.
Mr Loubinoux explained that “In the High Rail Scenario, by minimising cost per passenger or ton km, maximising revenues from stations and ensuring that all modes of transport pay for the negative impacts that they generate (polluter pays principle), an aggressive deployment of rail could lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions in transport. This scenario leads to the reduction and shift of 11.5 trillion passenger-kilometres from airplanes, cars and two/three-wheelers, and 7.4 trillion ton-kilometres from trucks in 2050.”
The report includes a specific focus on India. “Rail serves as a vital lifeline of India, playing a unique social and economic role,” said Dr Birol. Rail remains the primary transport mode in the country, providing vital connections within and between cities and regions, and guaranteeing affordable passenger mobility that has long been a government priority. Rail passenger traffic in India has increased by almost 200% since 2000 yet prospects for future growth remain bright. Construction has started on India’s first high-speed rail line, the total length of metro lines is set to more than triple in the next few years, and two dedicated freight corridors are on track to enter operation by 2020.
In all countries, including India, the future of the rail sector will be determined by how it responds to both rising transport demand and rising pressure from competing transport modes. Rising incomes and populations in developing and emerging economies, where cities are growing exponentially, are set to lead to strong demand for more efficient, faster and cleaner transportation, but the need for speed and flexibility tend to favour car ownership and air travel. Rising incomes also drive demand for growth in freight, where higher incomes have sharply increased demand for rapid delivery of higher value and lighter goods.
You can access the report here: https://webstore.iea.org/the-future-of-rail
Speech given by Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux during the launch of the report
It is a great privilege and an honour
- to be part of this event, co-hosted by the Ministry of Railways and the International Energy Agency (IEA),
- and to represent UIC as the key contributor to “the future of rail” report, that is officially launched today.
What is UIC?
UIC is the association of the worldwide railway community, encompassing 200 railway networks and the majority of railway traffic…
… our members provide mobility for 7 billion people around the world.
With over 200 members and 80 partners in 100 countries on 5 different continents, we are in a position to not only observe, but also to influence major trends in mobility and help the world move towards a more sustainable future.
UIC is well known as a technical organisation which develops international standards, research and innovation.
Environmental issues and sustainable mobility are embedded in the core functions of UIC and are one of the fundamental values, which has been at the forefront of our agenda since Rio 1992.
We have been working closely with a variety of groups, from NGOs, governments, research institutes and of course all kinds of businesses involved in the industry to ensure that rail is promoted and developed to meet the needs of sustainable mobility.
What are the issues?
As we all know, the climate is changing and humanity is possibly facing the most difficult challenge we have ever had to overcome, with temperatures rising globally and records being broken every year.
Floods, droughts and the extreme weather events we see with more and more frequency and increasing severity.
The majority of the international community, from scientists to governments to businesses are coming together, recognising that something must be done, and creating sustainability goals and plans to achieve these goals.
That said, each year carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions still continue to rise, and transport plays a large role in this, contributing for almost one quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions.
The need for sustainable transport is not limited to global warming, as the world’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and the rapid urbanisation which is occurring now is expected to continue, with 43 mega cities, (that is cities with more than 10 million inhabitants), coexisting in the same year.
This is particularly relevant for India.
Transport activity in India is one of the highest in the world and is set to grow more than any other country, rail transport being regarded as the main transport mode (the lifeline of the nation).
It is clear that we have to rethink the structure of transportation globally to face the challenges that changing demographics bring, along with the impacts of climate change.
Goals for the report
Both today and over the past seven years we have been in collaboration with the IEA, who I again want to sincerely thank for their tireless work, helping to give a fair and objective view of the importance of the railway sector as the backbone of sustainable mobility.
This report indeed gives a positive view of its role and place among all transport activities.
International cooperation and organisation are the only way that we will be able to achieve the demanding goals we have set for ourselves.
As this report states clearly, rail is uniquely positioned to handle these challenges.
Despite having a modal share of 8% for passenger transport, 7% for freight transport, rail contributes to only 2 and 3% of CO2 emissions from transport for passenger and freight respectively (out of these 25%).
This shows how rail is already a leader in terms of sustainability and efficiency due to a variety of reasons such as economies of scale and technical development.
It is recognised that the sustainable development goals for the global railway sector are achievable, such as:
- Rail as the safest mode of transport
- Rail reduces congestion
- Rail improves access to mobility
- Railway companies are responsible and attractive employers (rail is the largest employer in India)
- Rail has a low impact on the environment and climate change
A vision for 2050
But this report goes further: it gives a vision of how rail’s place in the global transport system can be changed, in a context of rising transport demand and rising pressure from competing transport modes.
In the High Rail Scenario, by minimising the cost per passenger or ton km, maximising revenues from stations and ensuring that all modes of transport pay for the negative impacts that they generate (polluter pays principle), an aggressive deployment of rail could lead to a peak in transport CO2 emissions.
This scenario leads to the reduction and shift of 11.5 trillion passenger-kilometres from airplanes, cars and two/three-wheelers, and 7.4 trillion ton-kilometres from trucks in 2050.
Moreover, if the power sector were to decarbonise more rapidly, in line with the Paris agreement, GHG emissions due to electricity demand for rail operations could be further reduced.
What rail transport needs
Achieving the modal shifts outlined in this scenario requires both increased policy effort and substantial investment.
- The investments needed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of rail transport can be lightened by the reduction of bottlenecks, the modernization of signalling systems, the increase of axial loads and loading gauge in some strategic sections of the network.
The investments can also be on building or improving the inter-modal nodes dedicated both to freight (ports, logistic centres) and to passenger traffic (stations, parking facilities, connections with public transport).
- Green investments should be oriented towards rail activities, because rail transport is well positioned and the potential to fulfil the requirements linked with green bond issuance or any other type of green funding requirements.
That is the reason why UIC recently launched its first working group on green financing, with the aim of defining the “best-in-the-class” standards for the railway industry (chart, sectorial guideline, methodology to access green funding, etc...).
- Thinking multimodality is key.
Rail can’t work by itself, bring our societies towards a decarbonised and sustainable mobility by itself.
We have to think of mobility globally, holistically, each mode bringing its own environmental, social and economic strength.
Thinking in the context of multimodality to offer customers journeys that are safe, reliable, comfortable, seamless and affordable to all is the best way to fulfil the Paris agreement.
That is also a topic widely studied by UIC and its members (a state-of-the-art and best practice report should be published in 2020).
The advent of the train was one of the most important technological innovations of the nineteenth century, and became a symbol of modernity, entering the daily life of citizen.
It was then the transport of the future.
In the twenty first century it is about to be the future of transport, the backbone of an intelligent sustainable chain of mobility.
For further information please contact Carole Escolan-Zeno, Head of the UIC Sustainable Development Unit: