Release #07-09—June 1, 2007
Washington, D.C.—The National Association of Railroad Passengers welcomes the release this week of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s newest data on national energy consumption, which show that Amtrak continues to be more energy efficient than either airlines or automobiles.
The data show that domestic airlines on average consume one fifth (20.5%) more energy per passenger-mile than Amtrak, while cars consume over one quarter (27%) more than Amtrak. Looked at the other way around, Amtrak uses 17% and 21% less energy per passenger-mile than airlines and cars, respectively.
The figures are even more encouraging when additional factors are considered, such as the tendency of rail to stimulate pedestrian and transit-friendly development, the fact that short distance flights are less energy-efficient than aviation’s national average, and studies indicating that fossil fuel emissions at higher altitudes cause twice the warming effect on climate as those emitted at ground level.
Oak Ridge reported the following energy efficiency measures, stated in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per passenger mile—the lower the number, the greater the efficiency. One passenger mile is one passenger traveling one mile.
The Oak Ridge study, which is Edition 26 of its annual Transportation Energy Data Book (published under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy), is in pdf on ORNL’s website; click on “Edition 26 download page.” See especially chapter 2 (tables 2.13 and 2.14 on pages 2-15 and 2-16).
NARP’s discussion of the new data is here on our website.
Note: The new data currently is available only in pdf; Oak Ridge has yet to update Excel spreadsheets, whose previous (Edition 25) versions are still on ORNL’s website (click on the chapters to the left).