Emission Saving Potentials of Freight Transportation in Europe: Shifting Road to Rail Transport?


  • Jan Wedemeier Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI)
  • Malte Jahn Helmut Schmidt University (HSU)
  • André Wolf Centrum für Europäische Politik (cep)




Freight transport, Modal shift, Greenhouse gas emissions, Emission reduction


This paper aims at investigating the savings potential of increasing the share of rail transport in the European freight transport sector regarding greenhouse gas emissions. This paper sets itself apart by using the realized modal shift instead of the potential as the starting point for calculating the associated potential reductions in GHG emissions. The expected emission reductions associated with shifting long-distance freight transport from road to rail until 2030, as considered in this paper, are estimated using the modal shift of EU-member states with the base year 2017 and national growth rates of rail share from 2005 to 2017. The expected emission reductions are relatively small compared to the total emissions of the growing freight transport sector although (very) ambitious scenarios were assumed. To achieve a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, transport initiatives must be complemented by a reduction in the specific emissions of the respective modes of transportation. The paper closes with a short outlook for the development of the transportation sector.


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