How environmentally friendly is the train actually?

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How environmentally friendly is the train actually?-friendly

Deutsche Bahn likes to generate itself as the environmentally friendly means of transport par excellence. But why will hardly pay about the energy consumption? The puzzle solution is unfortunately simple and disillusioning: the energy consumption of the Deutsche Bahn is significantly higher than many suspect. In fact, trains are not particularly energeticfizi.

On this topic, I came to the research for my book “Tesla or: how Elon Musk the electromobility is revolutionized”. There I compare the energy consumption of electric cars very thorough with other means of transport and I came across a big fairytale. For the book I had only an official number of the train. They gave consumption per passenger in the ICE 3 on average with a gasoline equivalent of 2.3 liters. That sounds like little. And that is also compared to a car with internal combustion engine. And consumes 100 percent fossil fuel compared to the ICE. ICES driving according to advertising on the other hand with 100 percent green electricity. Technically, however, there are a few limitations here. Since public charging columns in Germany and funded wallboxes must also be operated with green electricity, however, this also applies largely for electromobility.

Power consumption in local traffic higher than burners

In the research I came across a single article on the topic. In the Frankfurt general Sunday newspaper of 14.10.In 2007, the power consumption of the train is taken more closely in the microscope. Author is Gottfried Ilgmann, Engineer and Years Advisor to the Government Commission Train, Federal Ministry of Transport and the Executive Board of Deutsche Bahn. He comes with his research to very high degrees of rail traffic of up to 7.2 liters gasoline equivalent in local traffic. This is even in comparison with current combustion vehicles a lot. And compared to the electric vehicle, it is even an extremely high energy consumption.

In favor of the railway, I draw the rather low energy content of a liter of normal vein, which lies according to the Swiss Federal Office for Energy at 8.67 kilowatt hours (kWh). Say: According to Ilgmann, the railway consumes the local traffic 62.42 kWh per passenger and 100 kilometers, so round the triple of an electric car. Its consumption I use on average 18 kWh per 100 kilometers for a usual mid-range vehicle.

The track provides contradictory data

But I want to support myself exclusively on the data of the train. And there it gets complicated. Because the information depending on the source are extremely different and the calculation bases are rather opaque. For example, the very first source is: the environmental mobile check of the train. This is a tool to calculate the life cycle assessment of your own trip by train. Unfortunately, the tool probably has little to do with reality. For the route Berlin-Cologne, an energy consumption of 3.3 liters of gasoline per person is specified for the entire route. However, this contradicts all publications of the train. Be it that an ICE with full capacity utilization consumes only one liter of gasoline per person and 100 kilometers or that the ICE 3 2.3 liters per person is consumed to 100 kilometers with average capacity utilization. At a distance of around 600 kilometers, 3.3 liters would only be slightly more than 0.5 liters per person and 100 kilometers. Since the railway encourages with its publications rather confusion than that she cares for clarity. How high is the energy consumption of the train?

The true consumption of the train is in a letter of editor

I found it in the Frankfurter General Sunday newspaper in a letter to the editor of Deutsche Bahn in response to the article by Gottfried Ilgmann. Joachim Kettner, head of the Bahn Environment Center 2007 announces the crucial number: 2.9 liters per passenger and 100 kilometers. That sounds little first. But if you convert it to kilowatts, then the train does not look so good in comparison with the electric car. Calculated with the gasoline equivalent of 8.67 kilowatt hours, the 25.14 kilowatt hours are. That’s a lot, especially in comparison with the electric car. However, this number comes from the year 2007. Since the train was only 42 percent busy. Would one take into account the rising capacity utilization leads to 18.82 kilowatt hours at the 56.1 percent utilization 2019, so before Corona.

An electric car consumes hardly less. Namely 18 kilowatt hours to 100 kilometers realistically accepted. However, you have to accept the consumption of durses. And these are at the average occupation of a car in Germany with 1.46 people only 12,33 kilowatt hours per person and 100 kilometers. Traveling with the train thus consumes around 50 percent more electricity than traveling with the electric car. And that with optimal utilization. And because of the elaborate infrastructure such as tunnels, points or train stations, the construction and operation of the infrastructure and vehicles as a whole is also CO2 / more intense than the electric car. This is added, such a study of the eco-institution on behalf of the Federal Environmental Agency.

If you only take the energy demand of long-distance traffic, the train would have to be much better utilized to keep up with electromobility. And unfortunately she is still less in times of Corona, which makes the energy balance even worse for the railway. And in the long-distance traffic, the journey to the train station with the local traffic, taxis or cars, which worsen the energy balance again.

Without coal flow, the train can not drive in long-distance traffic at all

And a problem may not be forgotten at the train: the dirty electricity. Not only that the railway with 400 megawatts is one of the big buyers of coal flow from the coal power plant Datteln 4. Partially, routes can only be used at all because extra coal-fired power plants were built. For example, the coal-fired power plant Schkopau was built on the Halle Erfurt route. It supplies the special rail current with 16 ⅔ Hertz with a capacity of up to 110 megawatts. Without this power plant, this important route would hardly be operable. She belongs to the Traffic Project German Unit Nr. 8, the railway line between Berlin and Munich, which is covered with the maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour. And this coal flow can only be used only by train.

With train stream, end consumers can not do anything. He has the wrong frequency. Say: For example, the eco electricity promise of the train can not be maintained on this route Defacto at all. The ICES can only drive here with coal flow. The green stripes on the ICES driving between Berlin and Munich is simply and simply label swing.

High weight of the ICES per passenger

But what are the reasons for the high energy consumption of the train: reason one: trains are the hardest means of transport. The Mar from such a heavy car is a myth. For example, the best capacity utilization of the train prevailed, an ICE 3 weighs, for example, just two tons per passenger, a heavier electric car about 1.4 tonnes. And in long-distance traffic, the train is very fast on. At 300 km kilometers on the track, for example between Berlin and Munich, the energy consumption goes dramatically in the amount.

So what about doing so?

  1. We can not travel without energy consumption. Say: We should travel less.
  2. The train has to work on the efficiency: the utilization must be increased and the weight and perhaps also reduces the speed. The ICE 4 is here with less weight and a smaller maximum speed one step in the right direction.
  3. We can not optimize everything except for the last quixt. There will always be differences between the means of transport.
  4. Small maybe amazing info: With distance energetically best transportation is the coach. That weighs only about 400 kilos per person and does not drive so fast. Here the first vehicles are already delivered. They hit all other means of transport about lengths.

About the author: The journalist Christoph Krachten drives for 20 years of electric vehicles. Through his research to his book about Tesla “Tesla or: how Elon Musk revolutionizes the electromobility”, he has dealt intensively with the topic of electromobility and has sometimes encountered amazing facts.

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1 thought on “How environmentally friendly is the train actually?”

  1. These are shocking results that force you to a balanced factual and less politically motivated viewing. It is a myth that the ONV is better than an electric car!


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