Monday 3 July 2023

UIC’s Traction Energy & Emissions Database: Tracking progress in the rail sector

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Each year, UIC collects data on energy consumption and emissions from railway undertakings to monitor the performance of railways towards decarbonisation targets set out by the UIC and CER for 2030 and 2050. With this data collection, UIC produces a yearly report on Traction Energy and Emissions, which provides key insights for policy and decision makers, financing institutions and academia, among other important stakeholders in the rail ecosystem. Tracking progress is the key to continued promoting of the role of rail as the cleanest mode of transport.

In 2022, the database was adapted and opened up to members in all regions and we were pleased to receive data from Asia, North America and Africa. But participants outside Europe still remain very few and freight operators are much less likely to report their data than passenger operators. New participants are invited and are encouraged to input their dataset, to be included in the monitoring report. The dataset works best when able to capture all aspects across the rail industry. Thus, all worldwide passenger and freight companies are asked to report. The more data from all activities and regions, the stronger the database becomes, increasing the transparency and accountability of the numbers that are then used in different tools and reports, such as EcoPassenger, EcoTransIT, shared with the IEA, and numerous reports developed using UIC figures.

Last year’s report showed that energy consumption of passenger trains has decreased by 20% from 2005 to 2021, while in the same period the energy consumption for freight has dropped by 68%. With regards to air quality, total particulate matter emissions (PM) have been reduced by about 44.4% in 2021 from the 2005 baseline, which is about 20% more than the linear performance expected in 2021. Furthermore, total nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx), have been reduced by 41.7% in 2021 from the 2005 baseline, which is about 15% more than the expected linear performance. Similar to PM, the NOx target set for the year 2030 has already been achieved.

These impressive reductions have already exceeded the 2030 targets the sector set itself. This shows that the rail sector is leading efforts to significantly reduce traction energy and related greenhouse gas emission and continues to contribute to improving air quality in neighbourhoods and cities. Railways are on track to reach net zero before any other motorised transport mode.

The data collected and reported feeds UIC advocacy work, especially in COP meetings. By showing that rail is the only mode to have reduced its emissions, UIC calls for further investments and climate financing for rail development around the world, as a climate solution for transport.

To get started, visit, and get support via UIC Traction Energy & Emissions database’s management team at

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