Rail freight in 2035 - Traction energy analysis for high-performance freight trains

Andreas Hoffrichter*, Joseph Silmon, Simon Iwnicki, Stuart Hillmansen, Clive Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a comparison of the energy consumption and carbon emissions of rail and road vehicles for two routes. The scenarios considered are a high running speed container train, in locomotive hauled and electrical multiple unit (EMU) configuration, and a converted passenger EMU for pallets, as well as the corresponding road heavy goods vehicles. The container route is over the UK's East Coast Main Line and the pallet route is from London to the border with Scotland. The well-to-wheel 2008 and projected 2035 energy figures and carbon emissions are determined. It is demonstrated that, despite higher running speeds, a modal shift to rail reduces carbon emissions. The higher speed results in a more flexible path allocation for freight trains, enabling more attractive and flexible offers to shippers, therefore encouraging modal shift. The particular advantage of rail in hauling large volumes of cargo is highlighted, particularly if locomotives are used for traction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-574
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • CO emissions
  • freight electrical multiple unit
  • freight rail traction energy
  • High-speed rail freight
  • road - rail comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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