Executive Briefings

Analyst Questions 'Green' Benefits of Forcing Truck Traffic Onto Rails

Noël Perry, author of Transportation Fundamentals newsletter, questions whether proposed government actions to incent greater use of freight rail will actually result in a greener transport system. However, he suggests that reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions can be achieved through improved access to intermodal terminals, equalization of rail and truck standards for production of potent NOx exhaust and modifying existing truck size and weight regulations. The analysis is contained in the December issue, the last of a four-part discussion of the economics of truck and rail competition.

While Perry agrees that rail line-haul is far more fuel efficient than truck, he maintains that this is just part of the energy equation. Rather, he concludes that for optimal energy efficiency one must look at the complete supply chain from start to finish, including the local pick-up and delivery function for which flexible trucks are far more efficient than rail. He suggests that maximum energy efficiency might be gained from more transloading of freight between truck and rail, where truck is used for local transport and rail for the intercity movement. Another fertile area of government action, according to Perry, would be to modify existing truck size and weight standards which have been frozen for over 20 years. 

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Noël Perry, author of Transportation Fundamentals newsletter, questions whether proposed government actions to incent greater use of freight rail will actually result in a greener transport system. However, he suggests that reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions can be achieved through improved access to intermodal terminals, equalization of rail and truck standards for production of potent NOx exhaust and modifying existing truck size and weight regulations. The analysis is contained in the December issue, the last of a four-part discussion of the economics of truck and rail competition.

While Perry agrees that rail line-haul is far more fuel efficient than truck, he maintains that this is just part of the energy equation. Rather, he concludes that for optimal energy efficiency one must look at the complete supply chain from start to finish, including the local pick-up and delivery function for which flexible trucks are far more efficient than rail. He suggests that maximum energy efficiency might be gained from more transloading of freight between truck and rail, where truck is used for local transport and rail for the intercity movement. Another fertile area of government action, according to Perry, would be to modify existing truck size and weight standards which have been frozen for over 20 years. 

Read Full Article