WIT Press

Inland rail freight services with less fuel and lower emissions


Free (open access)


Volume 6 (2021), Issue 2



Page Range

170 - 180

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Frans Bal & Jaap Vleugel


Many countries have enhanced their air quality agenda (NOx, PMx  etc.) by a climate change agenda (CO2  etc.). A direct way to lower these emissions is by using less energy (fuel) per activity. One of these activities is freight transport. Transport from supplier to factory relies on efficient and cost-effective means of transport. Road transport (trucking) is usually preferred. But, trucking is still very dependent on fossil fuels. It is also not suitable for bulk transport over longer distances. In areas without suitable waterways, rail is a logical alternative, but is has its own perils. This paper discusses options to make bulk freight services between Germany and France compliant with emission reduction targets. This leads to the main research question: Is it possible to design rail freight routes that reduce fuel use, emissions of CO2, NOx and PM10, while offering competitive transport times? Main rail corridors show signs of congestion and lack of resilience. It is then interesting to research if (dormant) regional/rural, non-electrified, rail tracks could provide capacity and increase resilience of rail services. Such services could also benefit rural economies. A literature study and conversations with a regional expert were used to develop a case study with a rail service using alternative routes. A model was used to estimate the fuel consumption, emissions and trip times of such services. The study indicates that it takes con- certed action to achieve the intended goals.


cross-border, economics, emissions, Europe, evaluation, Freight transport, logistics, road, rail, policy-making, simulation