Railways are an important means of transport. At a global level, they cover nearly 7% of annual passenger and freight volumes. Many emerging economies in particular are looking increasingly at railways to further support travel activity; since 2000, global passenger volumes have grown by nearly 50% to more than three trillion passenger-kilometres, primarily driven by China and India. The related energy use is modest in comparison; only around 2% of transport fuel use is in rail, primarily consisting of oil and electricity. This makes rail transport one of the most energy-efficient modes of transport today.
Railways have the potential to play an even more important role for satisfying growing future needs for transport, and in a potentially more energy-efficient and cleaner way than other modes. The theoretical scope is vast: rail can satisfy urban passenger mobility needs at low speed just as well as inter-urban travel demand at very high speed; similarly, rail can satisfy demand for the transport of commodities and goods. This is why the International Energy Agency (IEA) and UIC have decided to work together on a new publication that aims to analyse the current state of railway and energy use, as well as its future prospects to support the transition to a cleaner energy and transport system.
As part of this study, the IEA and UIC are hosting a high-level workshop to bring together decision makers and experts from around the world to provide strategic guidance as well as technical input. The goal of the workshop is to reflect on the current state of play for railways in different countries and the existing enabling frameworks; a review of possible drivers and bottlenecks for enhancing the future role of railways; relevant considerations for railway transport towards a cleaner and more inclusive global transport sector; and a deep dive into the case of India and the unique opportunities for the country’s development that could emerge from expanding railway transport.
The workshop follows the Chatham House Rule: participants are free to use the information received, but without attribution to specific speakers or participants.