ORR figures reveal the lowest record of train emissions due to COVID-19
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has released data outlining the lowest level of emissions, on record, across Great Britain’s railway network during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: Office of Rail and Road (ORR)
As a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, both diesel and electricity consumption on the railway reduced, largely due to the fewer trains running across the network, resulting in lower CO2 or equivalent (CO2e) emissions.
Furthermore, diesel used by passenger trains decreased in the last year to 354 million litres, which resulted in 977 kilo tonnes of CO2e emissions between 2020 to 2021, which is a reduction of 26 per cent compared to 2019.
In addition, the amount of electricity used by passenger trains fell by 12 per cent to 3.7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh). Therefore, this led to a 20 per cent decrease in CO2e emissions attributed to electricity generation, from 1,087 kilotonnes in 2019 and 2020 to 868 kilotonnes between 2020 and 2021.
ORR’s data shows that since 2016 to 2017, emissions from electricity usage have been lower compared with emissions from diesel use, despite the increased use of electricity across the rail network. This is predominantly due to a transition towards renewable energy sources imposed by the electricity sector in Great Britain.
For rail freight trains, there was also a decrease in emissions with both diesel and electricity use falling. Electricity use by rail freight trains fell by 9 per cent compared with 2019 to 2020, from 70 million kWh to 64 million kWh. Furthermore, this was the second lowest electricity figure for rail freight since the years 2016 to 2017, with 58 million kWh. However, records show a slightly larger decrease in diesel consumption, which fell by 11 per cent to 153 million litres.