Why is rail travel a better choice for the environment?

Throughout the world rail transport is recognised as an environmentally friendly form of transport.

Did you know that rail transport is one of the most energy efficient modes of transport? In fact, greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre for rail transport is up to five times less than that of car transport.

The Australian Rail Association has documented that only 2.6% of Australia's transport greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to rail. This 2.6% includes both passenger and freight rail so, in fact passenger rail contributes even less.


A train line can move 50,000 people an hour. Compare this with a freeway lane which can move 2500 people an hour.

What does it take to move 1000 people?

  • One train (eight carriages)
  • 15 buses
  • Anywhere from 250 to 1000 cars. This would then require 1.37 hectares of parking space in the Sydney Central Business District.


The external costs of rail in terms of noise, air pollution, accidents, infrastructure deterioration and congestion are much lower than using your private vehicle.


Urban rail transport is seven times safer than road per passenger kilometre.

The NSW community not only benefits environmentally when you choose Sydney Trains. It also provides the community with:

  • a relaxing form of transport to travel around Sydney
  • relief from rising fuel costs
  • improved accessibility of business, shopping districts, events and social activities
  • a decrease in road congestion and traffic noise.

Our responsibility

Sydney Trains recognises its own responsibility to protect the environment and to operate in a sustainable manner. We are continually striving to improve our environmental performance in areas such as:

  • air quality
  • biodiversity
  • energy management
  • noise and vibration
  • water
  • waste.

Climate change initiatives

We have risen to the challenge of combating climate change, through the following key initiatives:

  • Our newer trains are equipped with regenerative braking capability, whereby the traction motors act as generators when braking to save electricity.
  • Participation in the Federal Government's Energy Efficiency Opportunities Program, which ran until June 2014, under which we assessed energy usage across our operations to identify opportunities for greater efficiency.
  • Undertaking trials of energy efficient LED lighting and photo-voltaic technology at some stations.
  • Considering energy and greenhouse requirements, in addition to other Ecologically Sustainable Development principles, in our business planning and procurement processes.
  • Participating in global climate change initiatives such as Earth Hour.

Other areas where Sydney Trains is making a positive impact on the environment include:

  • Installation of water tanks at selected stations and depots
  • The promotion of water saving initiatives to the community.

How you can help

When you choose to travel by rail rather than by car, you are instantly making a personal contribution to minimise the impact on our environment. And every contribution counts, no matter how small.

Other ways you can help:

  • Encourage others to travel by train.
  • Walk or ride your bike to the train station to minimise the carbon footprint of your journey.
  • Take your rubbish with you for correct disposal either at work or at home.
  • Keep noise to a minimum when riding a train and entering or leaving stations and their surrounds.
  • Report dirty carriages, vandalism or anti-social behaviour to 131 500.
  • For environmental complaints contact the Rail Greenline on 1300 656 999.
  • If you can't use a train, check out other forms of public transport available using the transportnsw.info website.
  • If you need to drive, consider carpooling as a way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Western Sydney Carpool is an online service that aims to match you with other people travelling in the same direction.

At Sydney Trains we will continue to do our part by implementing initiatives that will benefit the environment and the community, now and into the future.

Climate Adaptation Champion

Sydney Trains

Awarded the Climate Adaptation Champion award

Sydney Trains have been announced as Climate Adaptation Champions for 2015-16 at the NCCARF (National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility) CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Climate Adaptation Conference 2016.

  • This award reflects the increasing awareness by Australians of the threat posed by climate change as well as an unwavering commitment to pursue initiatives and take real action towards adaptation.
  • The Environment team at Sydney Trains are proud to be leading the way in climate change adaptation.