Rail Freight & lower Carbon footprint

Transport system is highly fossil fuel dependent, which cause significant emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and air pollutants.

Over 20 % of Ireland’s Greenhouse gases emissions are from the transport sector and still increasing. Rail Freight is one of the solutions to achieving the lower Carbon footprint. One can ask why? Here are a few facts:

  • Irish Rail operates every day service of 18 wagons between Ballina and Dublin Port
  • We also carry mineral ore between Navan and Dublin Port, the service consist of 3 x trains running daily with 12 wagons per each train
  • Timber from the west of Ireland gets delivered to Waterford Port a few times during the week, each service pulls 12 wagons of timber.

All of the above volume of traffic saves tonnes of CO2 emissions as only 1 locomotive can pull up to 18 wagons (intermodal service), where each wagon carries an equivalent of a truckload .

Rail Freight is very efficient for transport of high volume consigments, it is also fuel & energy efficient , only one locomotive is needed to pull 18 wagons (saving minimum of 18 x truckloads from the roads with just one train service). Rail is faster, especially over longer distances and more reliable as rail works on schedules and very rarely gets distrubted by weather or traffic as opposed to the road freight. Our staff working on the frontline are ensuring that rail freight services continue to operate fully during the current Covid crisis supporting vital supply lines. It also, requires only 1-2 drivers per train – depending on a distance. Using rail will naturally lower congestion on roads and with that it will lower CO2 emmisions.

It is also safer than road, especially when you consider carriage of Dangerous Goods. Chances of an accident on the line are minimal comparing to roads, hence it’s safer to transport chemicals, waste, bio mass, alcohol etc. by rail. Carriage of Dangerous Goods by rail is minimising the risk of contaminations resulting from road accidents.

Irish Rail on average pulls 12 000 wagons carrying IWT containers / portable tanks each year between Ballina and Dublin Port terminal, including 3500 full tanks / containers carrying dangerous goods (32% of overall traffic). To break it down further:

  • 75% of dangerous goods are exports from Ballina to Dublin Port
  • 25% are transiting via North Wall for delivery by rail to Ballina.

Worth noting is the fact that each train on average reduces carbon emissions by 75%  when compared to the road equivalent.

CO2 emissions for rail freight could be even up to 90% less than that for road freight with the new longer trains under trial. We have recently tested longer 21 wagon trains on our multimodal service and we hope to have receive a positive report soon.

The multimodal rail services between Ballina and the Port of Waterford has operated approximately 2,500 trains up to 2016. This means the displacement of over 40,000 long-distance truck movements of about 15 million truck kilometres (since it’s introduction in 2005).

Iarnród Éireann’s key strategy for freight is to organically grow the business by focusing on accounts with long term carriage prospects, regular and frequent traffic with bigger volume.

“During these very challenging times , I want to assure all our current and potential customers that we continue to fully operate all rail freight services through the dedication of our frontline staff working in conjunction with our customers and keeping supply lines open “ Glenn Carr General Manager Rail Freight & Rosslare Europort.

For further information on rail freight opportunities for your business please contact Kasia Steyn at Kasia.steyn@irishrail.ie