Other / 29 Nov, 2015
Low-Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge

Contact: International Union of Railways (UIC), Nick Craven, craven@uic.org

The transport sector is responsible for about one quarter of global energy-related carbon emissions. Without aggressive and sustained policies, carbon dioxide emissions from the sector could double by 2050. Ambitious climate action by railways can play a major role in bending the emissions curve and putting the world on track to reach full climate neutrality in the second half of the century.

 The rail sector has a key role to play in the solution to climate change. The sector is ready to take action, however its full potential can only be realized by working in partnership with National Governments, the private sector, development banks and NGOS working on sustainable transport. The International Railway Association, IUC, will be consulting on this proposal, to build momentum with their member rail companies and also to secure buy-in from transport authorities


Therefore UIC, the International Railway Association (240 members worldwide), is proposing a transport sector challenge which sets out ambitious but achievable targets for improvement of rail sector energy efficiency, reductions in green house gas (GHG) emissions and a more sustainable balance between transport modes.

Low carbon rail transport challenge has set ambitious 2030 and 2050 targets relative to a 1990 baseline:

1/ The first objective aims at cutting in half final energy consumption and GHG emission from train operation by 2030.

2/ The second pillar aims at shifting transport activity towards low carbon rail transport (modal shift). The goal is to double railway share of passenger transport by 2050.

UIC is seeking partnerships to achieve these targets and help to secure the two degrees Scenario. Partnerships with the private sector would support innovation and greater energy efficiency as well as partnerships with national governments & International Institutions would support modal shift.


The Low Carbon Rail Transport challenge will reduce GHG emissions through;

  • technical development and improved management leading to greater efficiency,
  • decarbonization of energy consumption
  • better use of existing rail assets (infrastructure & rolling stock),
  • investment to develop new rail networks  
  • benchmarking and reporting to drive improved performance & better inform transport policy.  

How to join UIC:

Please follow the detailed instructions here on the website.

Photo credit: Boris Brückhäuser (Flickr)