Throughout the pandemic, both diesel and electricity usage by railways showed a reduction due to fewer trains being required on the network with the knock-on effect of reduced ‘CO2 equivalent’ or CO2e.
‘CO2e’ emissions are a measure of all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide, allowing bundles of greenhouse gases to be compared.
As the use of passenger trains fell during 2020-2021, so did the use of diesel falling to 354 million litres, which meant 977 CO2e emissions in this period, which is equal to a 26% drop on the previous year.
Electricity also saw a drop in usage due to there being less need for passenger services, with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) findings recording a fall of 12% to 3.7 billion kilowatt-hours. This drop in usage also meant that there was a fall in electricity generation which lead to a 20% drop in CO2e emissions for the 2020-2021 period, which is a fall from 1,087 kilotonnes during 2019-2020 to 868 kilotonnes.
The ORR figures reveal that since the 2016-2017 period emission due to electricity usage have been less than diesel emissions even though usage of electricity has increased across the network. This is because of a move towards the use of renewable energy within the electricity sector throughout Great Britain.
Freight trains have also seen decreased emissions with the drop in diesel and electricity usage.
Freight trains using electricity dropped by 9% when compared with the 2019-2020 period, which is a fall from 70 million kWh to 64 million kWh. Diesel consumption saw more of a decrease compared to electricity for freight trains, with a drop of 11% to 153 million litres.
The Office of Rail and Road is the official provider of rail industry official statistics which includes railway performance, rail usage for passengers and freight and also provides statistics relating to safety. ORR’s findings are overseen by the UK Statistics Authority, which is the regulator for the Office for Statistics Regulation.
To see the ORR statistic release in full visit: https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk
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