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Carbon footprint: where does rail travel stand?

July 23, 2018
Author: Eve-Marie Morgo

Traveling comes with a substantial carbon footprint. We produce emissions from the time of booking to arriving at our destination. Can carbon reporting help drive more demand rail travel? 

Global policies such as the Paris Climate Agreement, are trying to reach zero emissions before 2050. Overall, the contribution of tourism to global greenhouse gas emissions is over 5%. On the other hand, travelers are now more conscious of their carbon footprint when traveling. We believe that carbon reporting should be a must for every travel company, and it can be a differentiating factor when choosing a mode of travel. 

Rail, a greener travel option

Rail is the most environment-friendly way to travel. According to Statista, the carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from rail travel is only 1%, road travel being the biggest contributor to CO₂ emissions. In that sense, taking the train could cut CO₂ emission by up to 90%. How can railways take advantage of this? 

blog-Amadeus-rail-co2-rail-travelSource: Statista.com


Carbon reporting: a must for railways

Carbon reporting should be like financial annual reporting: a must for every single travel company. Some railways are already disclosing their carbon emissions, and there are some excellent examples such as SNCF  tool to calculate CO emissions or Eurostar comparison of air vs rail (see graph below). 

Travel agencies also tend to include the carbon impact of a trip in the booking confirmation

Source: Eurostar.com
Some railways have already recognized that reporting carbon emissions is a good environmental practice, and on top, it can improve: 
  • Operational efficiency
  • Employee and community engagement
  • As well as branding

Carbon reporting is the next step for the rail industry. If we want to position rail as a sustainable travel option, railways should disclose carbon emissions when booking.

At Amadeus, we are working to achieve a world, where every rail journey booked will include both the journey price and the carbon costs attached to it. If you would like to learn more about carbon reporting, download now our report Proving the Case: Carbon Reporting in Travel and Tourism: 



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