NS Trains’ recent announcement that all of their electric trains are now running on 100% sustainable energy as of this year is a prime example of just how much the transportation industry is now striving to make public travel even more sustainable.
The dutch train operator is working in partnership with energy supplier, Eneco to power all of their trains by wind. It is reported that one windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, some 600,000 passengers were the first in the world to travel like this thanks to wind energy. It is no surprise that NS Trains are leading the way in sustainable rail travel considering The Netherlands is ranked number six in the world for sustainability – only falling short to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and New Zealand.
It is not just how NS Trains power their vehicles, they also look to use environmentally friendly materials where they can. Forbo Flooring Systems has supplied Marmoleum Striato FR linoleum flooring to the dutch rail operator for many decades now. Marmoleum is made with 100% green energy and includes a high percentage of natural raw materials and recycled content, making dutch rail travel even greener.
Railway Engineer reported that electrification is the answer to the rail industry reducing its carbon footprint – in 2013, the publication reported that some 80% of rail journeys in Europe are already made on electrified lines. Using green energy to power rail travel is a leading factor of sustainable transport but operators must look to other contributing factors such as rail floor coverings and fabrics, ticketing and scheduling. The supply chain should also be green – using products that are not only sustainable themselves but are also manufactured with environmentally friendly processes only enhances green initiatives.
NS Trains reported that they use 1.4 TerraWatts annually – the same electricity consumption as the entire city of Amsterdam – imagine the total figure for the global rail industry. With the recent Paris Agreement and Climate Change goals that many countries have agreed to achieve by 2030, it is now more vital than ever that rail operators and the full supply chain make commitments to greener rail travel. Leonardo Dicaprio’s inspiring speech at the United Nations last year highlights just how desperate our planet is for change.
Ultimately, the two incredibly essential reasons for this are to preserve our planet and resources, but there are many other contributing factors to the rationale for green travel. One is people. People are why we do anything, for our families, for our friends, to provide a service and to enhance lives. We make the world turn. As urbanization continues at a rapid pace, pollution in all forms is also increasing. People are now more connected than ever, not only through technology but also geographically – the transportation industry continues to connect people across wider spans. This means people are spending longer amounts of time in transit, meaning the travel environment has a bigger impact on their health and well-being. This in turn, gives travel operators a responsibility to use green products and services across the board.
Other reasons include the obvious, saving money but another key rationale is for rail to maintain its competitiveness. Other modes of public transport such as bus and car travel are quickly becoming cleaner and the gap is closing between them and rail travel. A person traveling by train produces 75% less CO2 emissions than a person traveling by car, but as roads better connect people and bus travel becomes more accessible, the decision is much less of a no-brainer in favour of rail.
The global rail industry was reported to be worth €159 billion in 2016 and is set to grow steadily by 2.1% year on year until 2021, hugely contributing to the world economy and therefore indicating the vast amount of positive impact it can have on our current environmental issues.
The industry is already starting to shift in some countries. SBB only uses the same amount of energy you get from one litre of petrol to transport a person 100km, BART’s latest trains include more sustainable features such as LED lighting, less energy-consuming traction motors and more environmentally friendly air conditioning systems and solar-powered trains are becoming a reality quicker than we first thought.
Greener rail travel has enormous benefits for all parties, the operator, the supplier, the passenger and our planet. As advocates of sustainable transport, we at Forbo Flooring Systems are excited to see how the industry progresses now that NS Trains has set the benchmark.