Train pollutes least

27/09/2005 14:00

Of all means of transport in the Netherlands, trains emit the least CO2 per passenger-kilometre. Cars cause most pollution. For goods transport, too, trains are best for the environment.

CO2 emission of some means transport, 2004

Large part of Dutch CO2 emission occurs abroad

Dutch means of transport accounted for the emission of 59.0 billion kilograms of CO2, in 2004, 29 percent of the total emission by the population of the Netherlands. A total 36 percent of this emission occurred outside the Netherlands. According to the Kyoto calculation. Dutch traffic and transport emitted 38.7 billion kilograms of CO2.

Cars were the largest contributor of all means of transport to the greenhouse effect, followed by road vehicles for goods transport, and planes. Transport by train caused little direct andd indirect CO2 emission.

CO2 emission per 1,000 passenger-kilometres, 2003

CO2 performance by planes better than by cars

In terms of CO2 emission per passenger-kilometre, airplanes resulted in less environmental pollution on average than cars. One important reason for this is that only one in two cars have more than one person in them on average. Trains were the most environmental friendly means of transport. The high occupancy rates and use of electricity are an energy-efficient way of transporting people. The CO2 performance of trains and planes has improved slightly in recent years, while that of cars has deteriorated further.

NOx emission per 1,000 passenger-kilometres, 2003

The differences between NOx emissions (nitrogen oxides) per means of transport are even larger than those between CO2 emissions. NOx emission per passenger-kilometre was much smaller for transport by train than for all other means of transport. Bus transport performed relatively poorly because of the high NOx emission by diesel motors. For cars these emissions have been substantially reduced in recent years with the introduction of better and better catalytic converters.

CO2 emission per 1,000 tonne-kilometres, 2003

Goods trains pollute less than inland vessels

Trains were also the most environmental friendly way to transport goods as well as people. Although goods transport by rail is mostly carried out with the aid of diesel locomotives, the CO2 emission per tonne-kilometre was half that of inland shipping, and one fifth of that of goods transport by road. The market share of rail transport in goods transport by Dutch companies was only very small, however, at 3 percent.

Sjoerd Schenau