Amtrak Pledges to Achieve ‘Net-Zero’ Emissions by 2045

National passenger railroad operator Amtrak has pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas or GHG emissions across its network by 2045.

[Above photo by Amtrak]

Amtrak said it plans to take the following actions, which would provide significant benefits to the customers and communities it serves:

  • Achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2045: Begin with efforts to increase energy efficiency, followed by the implementation of renewable fuels and energy.
  • Reduce diesel fuel use through advanced technologies: Leverage industry-leading research and testing in collaboration with state partners and experts to progress innovation and research in fuel cells, hydrogen, batteries and other zero-emission technologies.
  • Achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030: Continually focus on energy efficiency upgrades to reduce consumption and gradually meet all remaining needs using carbon-free electricity through renewable energy generation and power purchase agreements.

“We are seeing a new generation of travelers who are conscious of their environmental impact. This is providing a significant opportunity to attract rail riders well into the future,” said Amtrak President Roger Harris in a statement.

Amtrak’s Roger Harris

He added that, with the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act providing “historic” levels of funding to passenger rail systems, trains are poised to play an “important role” in the future of sustainable transportation.

Amtrak said IIJA funds would help it meet its net-zero target by helping it procure a more sustainable fleet and make other improvements to its aging train and passenger car assets.

Alongside those future goals, Amtrak said it continues to create “innovative solutions” that reduce energy consumption, emissions, and waste. Examples of this work, along with the company’s latest performance metrics for GHG emissions, electricity use, recycling and diesel fuel use, are encompassed within in its FY 2021 Sustainability Report.

State departments of transportation should play a role in Amtrak’s net-zero plans as railroad seeks their support on broader rail expansion efforts.

Amtrak’s Stephen Gardner. Photo by AASHTO.

In February, Stephen Gardner – Amtrak’s CEO – said that the national passenger railroad operator has “been able to create a national network together with tons of state support.”

Yet with new funding from the $1.2 trillion IIJA signed into law in November 2021, he said Amtrak seeks to “create new opportunities” for its state DOT partners.

“IIJA includes unprecedented investment support to grow [passenger] corridors and create new opportunities for Amtrak-state collaboration,” he explained in the luncheon keynote speech at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Council on Rail Transportation’s legislative meeting on in Washington, D.C.

[Editor’s note: AASHTO’s Transportation TV put together a video synopsis of that meeting, seen below.]

“Now we need to build much greater scale with the investment dollars we’ve been given, addressing decades of underinvestment,” Gardner pointed out. “We also must find the best ways to enable your vision for corridor growth – so we want to be a better partner for planning.”

Related articles