Amtrak services 46% more energy efficient than travel by car, according to sustainability report

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Amtrak has released its FY21 Sustainability Report, which reveals that intercity travel using the railroad’s services is cleaner and more sustainable than most transport alternatives.

On average, Amtrak’s services are 46% more energy efficient than travel by car and 34% more efficient than domestic air travel. On the electrified Northeast Corridor, Amtrak travel emits up to 83% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to car travel and up to 72% less greenhouse gas emissions than flying.

The fully electrified service also provides the environmental benefit of zero tail pipe emissions which improves air quality in the dense urban areas Amtrak serves.

The FY21 Sustainability Report showcases sustainability projects across Amtrak’s regions and operations. Throughout the report are details of Amtrak’s measured progress against annual and long-term sustainability goals that encompass greenhouse gas emissions, diesel fuel and electricity usage.

“Driving sustainability at Amtrak means transforming the customer experience, reducing our carbon footprint and expanding service to new markets across America,” said Stephen Gardner, CEO at Amtrak. “Recognizing the urgency to act now, Amtrak is out to change the way our country moves.”

The report also highlights how a significant share of Amtrak’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)-provided funding will support the procurement of new train equipment. On the NEC and various state-supported routes, this equipment will include new trainsets, including some dual-power equipment that can run on electric or diesel and other dual-power equipment that can run on battery or diesel.

On long-distance routes, IIJA funds will support the continued procurement of fuel-efficient, Tier 4-compliant ALC-42 locomotives, which emit 89% less nitrogen oxide and 95% less particulate matter than the diesels that they are replacing.

Amtrak is also working on a vision called Amtrak Connects US, which seeks to develop and expand intercity passenger rail corridors. Providing intercity passenger rail service to the 50 largest metropolitan areas, Amtrak’s vision aims to add service to 160 new communities, create 39 new routes and enhance 25 routes.

“Providing high-quality, low-carbon rail service that takes people out of cars and planes is one of the most efficient ways to drive emissions reductions,” added Dennis Newman, executive vice president, strategy, planning and accessibility at Amtrak. “Through more and better service, we will give additional people a chance to pitch-in and fight the climate crisis by choosing rail.”