Sustainability impacts of mode shift scenarios on major European corridors
Working paper 8 of the study LowCarb-RFC - European Rail Freight Corridors going Carbon Neutral
Purpose: This publication is one of nine working papers compiled within the study ""Low Carbon Rail Freight Corridors for Europe"" (LowCarb-RFC). The LowCarb-RFC study concentrates on ways for de-carbonising long-distance freight transport along major European corridors as this sector is among the most stead-ily growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, and which is most difficult to address by renewable energies and other standard climate mitigation measures in transport. This paper starts by elaborating an appropriate impacts assessment scheme, which is then applied to the transport model results for the LowCarb-RFC scenarios Pro Rail and Pro Road. Results: Comparing the single-mode improvements of rail in the Pro Rail sce-nario and the decarbonisation of HGVs in the Pro Road case, the road scenarios get closer to a deep cut in GHG emissions. The explanation is that in both road scenarios an electrification of the motorways is foreseen, while the rail improve-ments are not accompanied by electrification of motorways. Although rail per-forms better than road and barge transport in terms of GHG emissions, physical and economic limits to mode shift prevent the railways from catering the lion's share of freight movements. Since by 2050 energy efficiency of railways will an-yway approach an optimum, improvements to the freight sector's carbon footprint can only be undertaken for road and inland water transports. Options for bringing down road-based GHG emissions include the sector's electrification through overhead wires, batteries or synthetic fuels. Conclusions: A combi scenario for 2050 using the Pro Rail scenario and 50% / 100% electrification of motorways was calculated. A 50% electrification would bring the Pro Rail scenario down to the level of Pro Road, a 100% electrification would reduce external costs to an even lower level than Pro Road. We can thus conclude that efforts on all sectors to reduce GHG emissions are of utmost im-portance and have to be implemented immediately as we seem to greatly fail the ambitious mitigation targets set in the past years.