Getting it right on the policy prioritisation for rail decarbonisation: evidence from whole-life CO2e emissions of railway systems

Panrawee Rungskunroch, Zuo-Jun Shen, Sakdirat Kaewunruen

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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In the past several years, global warming has caused essential issues that all sectors must respond immediately. The Paris Agreement has turned into a critical framework provoking public and private sectors worldwide (Dimitrov, 2016; Pye et al., 2017). One approach to solving this problem involves the use of green energies and reducing CO2 emitted from all sectors.

Regarding the transportation sectors, it emitted CO2 above one-fourth of the global emission. A well-known problem with over emission is that some countries have inadequate public transportation and non-environmental policies. The low-fare service and high accessibility on public transit are major strategies to reduce emission from a private car (Krishnan et al., 2015; De Andrade and D’Agosto, 2016). These schemes eventually promote a long-term shift from self-vehicle to public transportation services. The United Kingdom government has been concerned with the global warming issue and provided new strategies to reduce CO2 emission in all sectors, such as launching new public transportation (Kaewunruen et al., 2018; Logan et al., 2020). Additionally, the United Kingdom’s railway network is considered the lowest CO2 emission per passenger over other public services. Regarding the global climate policies, the United Kingdom government has still intended to cut off the railway’s emission by replacing it with alternative fuels and changing the current diesel engine system toward the decarbonization concept, mainly reducing the emission from the operational process.

Even though the CO2 emission from the railway’s life cycle predominantly comes from the railway infrastructure, the United Kingdom government and rail sectors exceptionally focus on reducing those emissions from the operational stage. In this research, the authors believe that only promoting strategies to reduce CO2 in the operational process cannot bring the United Kingdom government to reach its targets by 2050. In contrast, the government should also consider other effective and practical strategies.

In order to understand the amount of CO2 emission from the railway network, the research deeply examines the entire life cycle analysis (LCA) through the high-speed rail (HSR)’s infrastructure. This research aims to provide future strategies and policies to cut the CO2 off the railway network. Furthermore, the decarbonization concepts and practical approaches to the railway system have been stated in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number638507
JournalFrontiers in Built Environment
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2021


  • CO2 emission
  • Railway system
  • decarbonisation
  • life cycle assessment
  • rail infrastructure


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