Rail emissions fell during pandemic

Emissions from trains across Britain fell to their lowest level on record in 2020-21, according to Office of Rail and Road data.

With fewer trains running on the network due to the pandemic, levels of diesel and electricity consumption on the railway reduced, resulting in lower CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions.

ORR reports that diesel use by passenger trains fell to 354 million litres, resulting in 977 kilotonnes of CO2e emissions, down 26% on the previous year. The amount of electricity used by passenger trains fell by 12%, prompting a 20% decrease in CO2e emissions attributable to electricity generation.

Since 2016-17, emissions from electricity usage have been lower compared with emissions from diesel use, despite increases in electricity usage across the network, which the regulator says is due to a transition towards renewable energy sources.

The freight sector also saw a reduction in emissions, with electricity use by freight trains down by 9% and an 11% decrease in diesel consumption.