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Shifting long-distance road freight transport to railways for decarbonization

Source : Money Control

Notes by Narsi

Transport in India contributes to 13% of total carbon emissions in India.  Since vehicle activity is expected to grow 3-3.5 times between 2020 and 2050, decarbonising the transport sector is crucial for India to move towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

In India, around 65% of freight and 90% of passenger traffic takes place by road (the percentages are similar for many countries worldwide). While decarbonization of road transport through electric vehicles is an ongoing project, electrification of heavy-duty trucks could take quite a while, and these trucks are responsible for about 55% of the energy consumption from road transport.

One interesting idea that has been put forward to reduce CO2 emissions from HCVs is to shift long-distance passenger and freight movement to railways.

With this in mind, the national committee had proposed an increase in rail investment from 0.4 to 1.2% of GDP by 2030. Plans are also afoot to significantly boost railway capacity, including the construction of dedicated freight corridors and high-speed rail.

Very few of us think about rail freight because it is not as visible as road freight, but it appears that this low-profile sector could be a key decarbonization tool.

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