Did you know that traveling by rail contributes less per passenger mile to greenhouse gas emissions than either cars or airplanes? According to the most recent U.S. Department of Energy data, Amtrak is 30 percent more efficient than traveling by car and 8 percent more efficient than domestic airline travel on a per-passenger-mile basis. By choosing to ride with us, you are reducing your carbon footprint. In addition to lower emissions per passenger-mile, Amtrak has partnered with carbonfund.org to provide our passengers with the choice of purchasing carbon offsets along with their Amtrak ticket. In 2016, our passengers purchased 101 metric tons of CO2 offsets. This equates to eliminating 242,000 miles driven by the average passenger vehicle or eliminating carbon emissions from burning 107,000 pounds of coal.
In addition to rail travel offering lower emissions per passenger mile, Amtrak has been reducing fuel and energy usage year over year with several initiatives including energy efficiency upgrades, improved train handling, and implementation of our Green Power Purchasing Policy. For more information on our sustainability initiatives, goals and greenhouse gas inventory, take a look at the Amtrak Sustainability Report and Our Sustainability Story.
If you have questions, comments or suggestions, e-mail us at AmtrakSustains@amtrak.com.
* U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory Data on Fuel Efficiency - Transportation Energy Data Book (Edition 35), Table 2.14
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is a measure of the effect you have on the climate in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases you produce (measured in units of carbon dioxide). Many of your daily activities generate carbon emissions which have an impact on the health of the environment. You can reduce your carbon footprint by offsetting your rail travel with contributions to projects like reforestation, renewable energy development and energy efficiency technologies.
To get a sense of how your travel on Amtrak will impact your carbon footprint, enter the city and state of your origin and destination, along with the number of passengers into the Rail Calculator. If you're traveling long-distance off the Northeast Corridor, break your travel into smaller segments for the calculator. For example, if you’re traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles by train, your segments would be Chicago to Kansas City, Kansas City to Albuquerque, and Albuquerque to Los Angeles. Check out our interactive travel planner to find the best route segments.
- All of our trains feature onboard recycling receptacles for bottles, cans and paper.
- Our mechanical and engineering facilities recycle materials generated from repair and maintenance work including, steel parts, scrap metal, batteries, used oil and more. In one year alone, Amtrak recycled more than 9,800 tons of steel parts and scrap, 90 tons of wire, 225,000 gallons of used oil, and 300,000 pounds of paper from these facilities.
- Recycling receptacles in Amtrak-owned station concourses and food courts help us encourage our customers to recycle whenever possible.
When you ride the Auto Train and take your vehicle off the road, you save yourself traffic headaches, time and money while also giving the earth a break by minimizing your impact on the environment. The Auto Train emits about half the greenhouse gasses that would be emitted if all the 370 cars the Auto Train can transport were driven on the highway. Put another way, the amount of greenhouse gasses reduced each year by using the Auto Train is equivalent to taking 3,478 cars off the road for a full year.
Sources: Amtrak & U.S. EPA data
When it comes to defining green travel, Amtrak leaves its competitors green with envy. Our powerful electric propulsion engines save precious resources and reduce greenhouse gases by consuming 11 percent less energy per passenger-mile compared to airplanes, and 31 percent less energy than automobiles. Yet with two locomotives on each train, Acela generates enough strength and speed to get you from Washington D.C. to Boston — and cities along the way — safely, efficiently and in an eco-friendly way.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory Data on Fuel Efficiency - Transportation Energy Data Book (Edition 33), Table 2.12
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide high-quality service and attract more riders, Amtrak introduced an enhanced bike service program in 2015 for passengers on the Carolinian, Heartland Flyer and Capitol Limited services. The program is designed to provide additional convenience to passengers traveling with their bikes by allowing passengers to pay a small fee to reserve a spot for their bike in the baggage cars. By the end of 2015, we instituted bike service on 18 routes.