Green Rail: 3 Projects To Improve Environmental Impact

December 27, 2019
Discover how railways drive economic growth and sustainability with these eco-friendly projects.

Green Rail: 3 Projects To Improve Environmental Impact

Rail has a big part to play in the action against climate change. Whilst trains are undoubtedly a more environmentally friendly option than travelling by car – producing approximately half the amount of CO2 emission per passenger/KM – there is still work to be done to make construction and service more efficient.

Steps are being taken all around the world. A good example is the new hydrogen hybrid trains as featured in our recent blog.

Here, we’ve compiled three other exciting initiatives:

The Green India Mission

The Green India Mission (GIM) is one of 8 missions launched under the National Action Plan on Climate Change in India. Officially launched in 2015, the 10-year plan is dedicated to ‘protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change’. Specifically, it lays out plans to increase green cover to the extent of 5 million hectares [mha] and improve ecosystem services.

The largest country with zero emission in railways, Source:

The railway is playing a key role in this. The Union Ministry of Railways has partnered with various companies to plant trees along railway land boundaries. Most notable is a Western Railway zone colony that is to become home to 25,000 plants of over 20 different species.

The space includes ‘green towers’, 5 layers of plants that will be introduced to maximise sustainable growth. Polluted water from the railway will be filtered and then the plants watered through a drip irrigation system.

The nationwide initiative will not only contribute to afforestation but also help stop the illegal encroachment of railway land.

Japan, Door-to-door Commuting

Maximising space in overcrowded cities is a key challenge in construction projects. Japanese company Giken has combined a solution to this problem with Japan’s commitment to promoting ‘door to door commuting’ as an alternative to driving.

The solution encourages a combined cycling to rail commute whilst freeing up space in crowded streets and stations

The ‘Eco Cycle’ storage solutions are popping up outside Tokyo train stations. The small kiosks automatically lock and transport bikes to a subterranean garage, complete with a tracking device for retrieval in less than 10 seconds.

The garages can each hold 144 bikes nearly 40 feet underground. The ‘Eco Parks’ are earthquake resistant and take just 50 days to build from start to finish. To date, there are over 50 Eco Cycle stations in Japan with plans for global expansion.

UK, solar-powered trains

Solar powered train, Source:

The world’s first railway line powered by solar energy was launched in the UK in August 2019. The Aldershot scheme is powered by 100 solar panels that run the signalling, lights and the track itself. The pilot was launched by climate change charity 10:10 in partnership with Community Energy South and Network Rail.

10:10’s initial study found that solar panels could meet a significant share of the railway’s energy needs. It is also cheaper than the grid-supplied electricity used today. This research resulted in pilot funding awarded by Innovate UK and the Department of Transport.

Network Rail hopes to use the scheme to solar-charge its rail lines across the country. The scheme also aims to build the world’s first ‘solar traction farm’ by 2020, which will be community- and commuter-owned.

India has similar plans to develop trackside solar farms. The country already boasts 250 solar-powered trains, but the weight of hosting panels on the trains themselves means that they use more energy than usual.

In conclusion, it is evident that rail transportation plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability and reducing the negative impact of transportation on the environment. By facilitating the movement of people and goods in an efficient and eco-friendly manner, rail transport offers several benefits over other modes of transportation, such as reducing carbon emissions, mitigating climate change, and conserving energy resources contribution.

While rail transport is not a panacea for all environmental challenges, it is clear that it offers significant advantages over other forms of transport. By investing in rail infrastructure and technology, governments, businesses, and individuals can contribute to a more sustainable future and reduce the negative impact of transportation on the environment. By integrating rail with other modes of transportation, such as buses, bikes, and walking, cities can create more sustainable, eco-friendly and livable urban environments.

To fully realize the potential of rail transportation in promoting sustainability, there is a need for increased investment, research, and innovation. Governments should prioritize rail infrastructure and technologies that are eco-friendly and energy-efficient, while businesses should explore ways to optimize their supply chains using rail transport. Individuals can also play a role by choosing to use rail transport whenever possible and supporting policies that promote sustainability.

In conclusion, rail transport is an essential tool for achieving sustainable development and mitigating the negative impact of transportation on the environment. By embracing rail transportation and working together to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, we can create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Green Rail: 3 Projects To Improve Environmental Impact

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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