Can railways get to a net zero emissions in Europe by 2050?

To reach net zero emissions, diesel in rail has to disappear. And how to do that, when the overall energy use of rail worldwide is currently split with diesel consumption slightly higher overall in 2021 than electricity, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report from 2022.

In Europe, the only country with a 100 percent electrified railway network is Switzerland, and of the EU countries, Luxembourg has the highest rate of electrified tracks with just 31 kilometres of non-electrified tracks on the primary network, out of 630 kilometres. There are no technical obstacles to further electrification, but the cost for upgrading and electrifying the existing rail infrastructure. 

The most heavily used railway lines in Europe are already electrified, and for smaller regional lines, electrifying is not always the best solutions. For these lines, battery are a much better and economic alternative. Retrofitting diesel trains with hydrogen technologies is also a way to reduce CO2 emissions from older diesel trains.

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Created Tuesday, March 7, 2023


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