The train is the most Eco-friendly and sustainable mean of transportation, on the other hand, the plane is the most polluting (EEA briefing, 2018)
The bus ranks second among the most sustainable means of transport. They are the most popular means of transport both in small and large cities as, unlike subways and trams, they do not require special infrastructures to function. This makes them usable on a larger number of routes and routes.
However, even buses, like all public and private means of transport, operate for the most part through combustion processes, that is, the main culprits of CO2 emissions into the air and therefore of climate change. For this reason, in recent years, European national governments have tried to favor an ecological transition path for the transport sector. This translates into a progressive introduction of hybrid and electric buses.
We all know that moving around by bike or on foot is for sure the most sustainable choice: for our health, for our wallet and, last but not least, for the environment! In many European cities, and don’t tell me you didn’t see at least one in Milano or in Roma, people start to use new vehicles that can be considered as “smart mobility” and I am talking about scooters and segways. n order to reach far destinations, to travel between cities for example, or to move goods and products, it is necessary to use other means of transportation such as cars, trains, ships, trucks or planes. This leads to a BIG amount of polluting emissions.
But let’s answer the question and elaborate it a bit: what is the most sustainable means of transportation? After detailed research, the train is classified to be the most sustainable one. According to the data published in 2018, by the European Environment Agency, transports, referring in general to rail, road, maritime and aviation, accounted for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union, in particular road transport accounts for 72%, while maritime transport and aviation account for 14% and 13% respectively.
Trains accounted for only 0.4%.
Trains therefore represent the most sustainable means of transport in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, based on the “passenger-kilometer” parameter.
Trains are normally pretty cheap, they are ecological, comfortable and fast: there are many reasons to use trains instead of planes or cars. For many journeys, the train is faster and safer than the car and often is also cheaper. For sure, for long-distance journeys, it is also more comfortable: on the train you can sleep, eat, listen to music, work on the PC and read. In addition, in the long-distance trains, the wi-fi connection is free and you can stretch your legs walking between one coach and another. During holiday periods, traveling by train would not only further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but would also help decongest the highways. To give an example, traveling by train from Milan to Paris reduces CO2 emissions on average by 25% compared to flying.
The sustainability objectives set in Europe, in the transport sector, foresee the doubling, by 2030, of passenger traffic on high-speed trains and tripling by 2050 (Report of the European Commission, December 2021). However, it must be said that in the coming years there will be an epochal change: in fact, both civil aviation and maritime transport will enter the era of electric propulsion. Therefore, we will be able to travel - initially only for short-distance journeys - aboard fully electric ships and airplanes. The rankings relating to polluting emissions are therefore destined, once again, to change.
And what if we still need to use cars or planes? Not a problem, the important thing is to adopt some precautions. Before choosing the airline to fly with, for example, it would be advisable to check whether, and to what extent, the company is engaged in offsetting CO2 emissions. Furthermore, direct flights pollute less than those with intermediate stops. The higher consumption and emissions, in fact, occur in the take-off and landing phases. As for the use of the car, if it is not possible to buy an electric car, car pooling and car sharing are currently the most sustainable solutions. A private car becomes more eco-friendly if at least three people travel on board (four if the car is diesel powered). To reach a shopping center, however, you can use the shuttle provided by the hotel, instead of a private car.
So, take the train and..ENJOY YOUR TRIP!