5 Environmental Benefits of Moving Freight by Rail

Rail used to be the driving force for moving freight over long and short distances in countries around the world. When the railroad was first built across the USA, the possibilities for moving cargo exploded and it was revolutionary. Today, trucks, airplanes, and boats are also popular for transporting freight. This convenience and the wealth of options available mean that many businesses lose sight of important considerations, like the environment.

Everyone must play a role in ensuring a livable future. If your business wants to do its part in reducing its effects on the environment, moving your freight by rail is a great way to start or add to your already existing program. In addition to contributing to a better future, you’ll also boost your corporate sustainability credentials.

Rail offers many environmental benefits for companies who move a lot of freight. Here are just 5 to consider:

It’s not just your freight

When using a train to move your freight, you’re sharing transportation with someone else. In the same way that carpooling helps move more people for less fuel, cost, and cars on the road, rail provides a similar solution for moving cargo.

Less fuel used

Rail allows businesses to move much more cargo than a truck. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), railroads are 4 times more fuel efficient than trucks. That means lots less fuel is used when transporting freight by rail. Your contribution to this helps! If even 10 percent of the freight that trucks move today were changed to rail transport, fuel savings would be upwards of 800 million gallons per year! Fuel extraction is a very messy business with lots of negative environmental impacts. From oil spills to the pollution created during petroleum refinement, drilling and transportation of oil and gas create many environmental problems. The less fuel used, the better.

Lower emissions

Another obvious consequence of using less fuel is that emissions are lowered. Just how much does rail help with this? Gas emissions from using rail over truck transport are reduced by 75%. That means fewer greenhouse gasses are in the air and the greenhouse effect is lessened as a result.

Fewer Trucks on the Road

Fewer trucks on the road as a result of using rail instead means that highways require less maintenance. Repairs and replacements on highways are not only expensive, they also involve the use of heavy machinery that consumes gas, contributing more to greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, fewer trucks mean less traffic. Every year, road congestion forces drivers to waste fuel as they wait or move at a snail’s pace. The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that 3.1 billion gallons of fuel were wasted due to traffic congestion in 2014. The beauty of rail is that no fuel is wasted in traffic!

Rail is getting even more environmentally friendly

There have been many advancements in rail even since the 1980s. The new locomotives are more efficient and also include start-stop systems to avoid unnecessary waste. The AAR reports that in 1980, a ton of freight got 235 miles to the gallon. In 2015, the same ton of freight gets much better mileage at about 473 miles per gallon of fuel.

Start using rail for some (or all) of your freight needs today! Ecology offers rail transloading services, so be sure to contact our us today to discuss your rail service needs.