Why be energy efficient?
The rail freight transport sector operates in a very competitive business environment, so small improvements in fuel efficiency or changes in fuel costs can have a big impact on profit and competitiveness. Many energy efficiency measures also offer other benefits such as increased productivity and reduced maintenance costs.
Rail freight emits 75% less greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of freight moved compared to the road freight transport sector. Investing in energy efficiency further enhances rail transport’s competitiveness as economies transition to a low carbon future.1
The strategies outlined here offer significant potential to improve the fuel efficiency of rail transport, partly because the current fleet contains many locomotives in need of upgrade or replacement. The average age of diesel engines in Australia stands at over 36 years, compared to an average of eight years in the USA and 13.5 years in the UK.2
Two energy efficiency strategies cover most of the fuel efficiency opportunities available to the rail freight sector:
- Innovation and employee education save fuel 2011 (Opens in a new window)
- Union Pacific
- PDF 257 KB
Since 2000, Union Pacific has gained a 19% improvement in fuel efficiency. This has been achieved mainly through utilising fuel efficiency improvements, better locomotive technology, engineer training and employee involvement.
- Transport Canada case studies 2008
- Transport Canda
This Transport Canada website includes a number of case studies from the ecoFREIGHT Program (operated from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2011). The program worked with the freight transportation industry to facilitate greater uptake of technologies and practices that reduce fuel consumption, air contaminants and greenhouse gas emissions.
- EEO Opportunities Register 2014 (Opens in a new window)
- Department of Industry and Science
This resource is a register of ‘significant opportunities’ identified by corporations as part of the Australian Government’s Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program. The register provides energy efficiency ideas that may be useful for other organisations looking to improve their energy productivity.
- Fuel for Thought - Potential energy efficiency opportunities in the Australian road and rail sectors 2011
This report catalogues potential opportunities for energy efficiency improvements in the Australian road transport (heavy duty vehicles only) and rail transport sectors. It was designed to supplement energy efficiency assessments undertaken by transport operators involved in the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program.
- Environmental Solutions for Freight Rail 2010 (Opens in a new window)
This report outlines proposals that have been developed by the rail industry to meet its emissions reduction targets. It is based on a review by the industry of short and longer term opportunities for improving environmental performance.
Footnotes ~ Show 2 footnotes
- Association of American Railroads (2011) Freight Railroads Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. AAR ↩
- Australasian Railway Association (2010) A Greener Future: An Alternative Fuel Strategy for Rail. ARA. (Opens in a new window) PDF 632 KB ↩