Indian Railways spearheads sustainable freight for greener practices
RAILWAYS & METRO RAIL

Indian Railways spearheads sustainable freight for greener practices

The spotlight is on sustainability as government and business leaders gather in Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Despite 95% of the world's transport energy still relying on fossil fuels, the transport sector is accountable for approximately one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. In an era increasingly focused on climate change and environmental concerns, opting for sustainable transportation can yield significant benefits.

Railways emerge as one of the most fuel-efficient means to transport freight over land, replacing hundreds of trucks emitting greenhouse gases on highways. Shifting freight to railways can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%. A study indicates that rail emits about 0.0149 kg of greenhouse gases per ton-km of freight moved, compared to trucks emitting around ten times more at 0.1445 kg per ton-km. This makes rail the lowest-emission option per ton-km for freight movement, offering economic advantages by alleviating road congestion and reducing highway maintenance costs.

A single freight train has the capacity to carry one thousand to five thousand tonnes of freight. While diesel fuel currently powers these trains, it generates only 25% to 33% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by trucks. As railways transition to electric locomotives or other non-fossil fuels in the future, even greater benefits in the battle against climate change are anticipated.

In this context, Indian Railways presents an eco-friendly, efficient, and compelling alternative to road freight. Currently holding a 28% share in India's freight movement, there is potential for growth. The National Rail Plan (NRP) 2020 aims to increase the freight traffic share to 44% by 2051.

The Railway Ministry is actively encouraging industries to utilise rail for freight movement. Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) on high-density routes enhance efficiency with higher throughput, heavy haul trains, lower energy consumption, reduced operation and maintenance costs, and shorter transit times.

Corporate entities, like Adani Wilmar, are capitalising on this shift. As a major Food & FMCG company in India, Adani Wilmar transports edible oils via railways, earning recognition from Indian Railways for being the largest transporter of edible oils via rail during the financial year 2022?23. The company has received 44,354 Rail Green Points (RGPs) since April 1, 2022, equivalent to 44,354 metric tonnes of carbon emissions reduction. This corporate commitment reflects a prioritisation of environmental considerations over monetary gain.

Rail Green Points serve to encourage industries to adopt railway transport for cargo movement, promoting sustainable supply chain management practices. This not only reduces carbon footprints but also contributes to a larger narrative of sustainable corporate practices in India.

In a country like India, where economic growth and environmental sustainability must coexist, railways provide a practical, efficient, and environmentally friendly solution with benefits for both the economy and the planet. Beyond business efficiency and environmental protection, the use of railways for freight signifies a broader societal shift toward recognising the importance of sustainable practices for the health of our planet and economic prosperity.

With ongoing efforts to improve the railway freight transport system through incentive schemes and enhanced connectivity, the potential for reducing carbon emissions, alleviating road congestion, and enhancing overall logistical efficiency is substantial. Corporate pioneers like Adani Wilmar, by showcasing successful rail freight usage, pave the way for Indian Railways to make a substantial contribution to India's quest for a greener and more sustainable future.

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The spotlight is on sustainability as government and business leaders gather in Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Despite 95% of the world's transport energy still relying on fossil fuels, the transport sector is accountable for approximately one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. In an era increasingly focused on climate change and environmental concerns, opting for sustainable transportation can yield significant benefits. Railways emerge as one of the most fuel-efficient means to transport freight over land, replacing hundreds of trucks emitting greenhouse gases on highways. Shifting freight to railways can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%. A study indicates that rail emits about 0.0149 kg of greenhouse gases per ton-km of freight moved, compared to trucks emitting around ten times more at 0.1445 kg per ton-km. This makes rail the lowest-emission option per ton-km for freight movement, offering economic advantages by alleviating road congestion and reducing highway maintenance costs. A single freight train has the capacity to carry one thousand to five thousand tonnes of freight. While diesel fuel currently powers these trains, it generates only 25% to 33% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by trucks. As railways transition to electric locomotives or other non-fossil fuels in the future, even greater benefits in the battle against climate change are anticipated. In this context, Indian Railways presents an eco-friendly, efficient, and compelling alternative to road freight. Currently holding a 28% share in India's freight movement, there is potential for growth. The National Rail Plan (NRP) 2020 aims to increase the freight traffic share to 44% by 2051. The Railway Ministry is actively encouraging industries to utilise rail for freight movement. Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) on high-density routes enhance efficiency with higher throughput, heavy haul trains, lower energy consumption, reduced operation and maintenance costs, and shorter transit times. Corporate entities, like Adani Wilmar, are capitalising on this shift. As a major Food & FMCG company in India, Adani Wilmar transports edible oils via railways, earning recognition from Indian Railways for being the largest transporter of edible oils via rail during the financial year 2022?23. The company has received 44,354 Rail Green Points (RGPs) since April 1, 2022, equivalent to 44,354 metric tonnes of carbon emissions reduction. This corporate commitment reflects a prioritisation of environmental considerations over monetary gain. Rail Green Points serve to encourage industries to adopt railway transport for cargo movement, promoting sustainable supply chain management practices. This not only reduces carbon footprints but also contributes to a larger narrative of sustainable corporate practices in India. In a country like India, where economic growth and environmental sustainability must coexist, railways provide a practical, efficient, and environmentally friendly solution with benefits for both the economy and the planet. Beyond business efficiency and environmental protection, the use of railways for freight signifies a broader societal shift toward recognising the importance of sustainable practices for the health of our planet and economic prosperity. With ongoing efforts to improve the railway freight transport system through incentive schemes and enhanced connectivity, the potential for reducing carbon emissions, alleviating road congestion, and enhancing overall logistical efficiency is substantial. Corporate pioneers like Adani Wilmar, by showcasing successful rail freight usage, pave the way for Indian Railways to make a substantial contribution to India's quest for a greener and more sustainable future.

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