A Methodological Framework for the Comparative Analysis of the Environmental Performance of Roadway and Railway Transport

  • Diamanto Mintzia Hellenic Open University
  • Fotini Kehagia Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Anastasios Tsakalidis Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Efthimios Zervas Hellenic Open University
Keywords: CO2 emissions, transport system operation, road infrastructure, road transport, rail infrastructure


Low-carbon transport is a priority in addressing climate change. Transport is still almost totally dependent on fossil fuels (96%) and accounts for almost 60% of global oil use. Sustainable transport systems, both passenger and freight, should be economically and technically feasible, but also low-carbon and environmentally friendly. The calculation of greenhouse gas emissions in transport projects is becoming a primary target of transport companies as a part of an endeavor for low-carbon strategies to reduce the energy demand and environmental impact. This paper investigates the CO2 impact of construction and operation of the main highway and railway line infrastructure in Greece, which connects Athens and Thessaloniki, the capital and the second biggest city in Greece respectively and provides a comparative analysis in roadway and railway transport.

Author Biographies

Diamanto Mintzia, Hellenic Open University
School of Science and Technology, MSc
Fotini Kehagia, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Department of Civil Engineering, Associate Professor
Anastasios Tsakalidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Department of Civil Engineering, PhD
Efthimios Zervas, Hellenic Open University
School of Science and Technology, Associate Professor


IPCC. Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland: IPCC; 2014.

IEA. World Energy Outlook 2015. Paris, France: IEA Publications; 2015.

EEA. Evaluating 15 years of transport and environmental policy integration TERM 2015: Transport indicators tracking progress towards environmental targets in Europe, EEA Report No 7/2015. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union; 2015.

ISO. ISO 14040:2006 Environmental management -- Life cycle assessment -- Principles and framework. 2006.

Stripple H, Erlandsson M. Methods and possibilities for application of life cycle assessment in strategic environmental assessment of transport infrastructures. IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd., 2004.

Kloepffer W. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of Products. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 2008;13(2): 89-95.

Chester MV, Horvath A. Environmental assessment of passenger transportation should include infrastructure and supply chains. Environmental Research Letters. 2009 Apr-Jun;4: 024008.

Chester MV, Horvath A, Madanat S. Comparison of life-cycle energy and emissions footprints of passenger transportation in metropolitan regions. Atmospheric Environment. 2010;44(8): 1071-1079.

Chester M, Horvath A. Life-cycle assessment of high-speed rail: the case of California. Environmental Research Letters. 2010;5(1): 014003.

Kimball M, Chester M, Gino C, Reyna J. Assessing the Potential for Reducing Life-Cycle Environmental Impacts through Transit-Oriented Development Infill along Existing Light Rail in Phoenix. Journal of Planning Education and Research. 2013;33(4): 395-410.

Manzo S, Salling KB. Integrating Life-cycle Assessment into Transport Cost-benefit Analysis. Transportation Research Procedia. 2016;14: 273-282.

Dimoula V, Kehagia F, Tsakalidis A. A holistic approach for estimating carbon emissions of road and rail transport systems. Aerosol and Air Quality Research. 2016;16(1): 61-68.

Spielmann M, Scholz R. Life Cycle Inventories of Transport Services: Background Data for Freight Transport. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 2005;10(1): 85-94.

Claro E. Towards low-carbon transportation infrastructures. 2010.

Stripple H. Life cycle assessment of road - A pilot study for inventory analysis. Gothenburg, Sweden: 2001.

Birgisdóttir H. Life cycle assessment model for road construction and use of residues from waste incineration. PhD Thesis. Copenhagen, Denmark: DTU ; 2005.

Birgisdóttir H, Pihl KA. Construction of 1km Motorway in Denmark = 1030 ton CO2 – and much more. Nordic Road and Transport Research. 2008;3: 28-29.

Angelopoulou GI, Koroneos CJ, Loizidou M. Environmental impacts from the construction and maintenance of a motorway in Greece. In: Koroneos CJ, Dompros AT. (eds.) ELCAS2009: Proceedings of the 1st International Exergy, Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainability Workshop & Symposium, 4 - 6 June 2009, Nisyros Island, Greece. Nisyros Island, Greece: COSTeXergy; 2009.

Milachowski C, Stengel T, Gehlen C. Life cycle assessment for road construction and use. Brussels: European Concrete Paving Association; 2011.

Muench S. Roadway Construction Sustainability Impacts. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2010;2151: 36-45.

Carlson A. Life cycle assessment of roads and pavements- Studies made in Europe. Linköping: Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut, 2011.

Barandica JM, Fernández-Sánchez G, Berzosa Á, Delgado JA, Acosta FJ. Applying life cycle thinking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road projects. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2013;57: 79-91.

Hill N, Brannigan C, Wynn D, Milnes R, Van Essen H, Den Boer E, Van Grinsven A,

Ligthart T, Van Gijlswijk R. The role of GHG emissions from infrastructure construction, vehicle manufacturing, and ELVs in overall transport sector emissions. Task 2 Paper Produced as Part of a Contract Between European Commission Directorate-General Climate Action and AEA Technology plc. 2012.

Baron T, Tuchschmid M, Martinetti G, Pépion D. High Speed Rail and Sustainability. Background Report: Methodology and results of carbon footprint analysis. Paris, France: International Union of Railways (UIC); 2011.

Rozycki Cv, Koeser H, Schwarz H. Ecology profile of the german high-speed rail passenger transport system, ICE. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 2003;8(2): 83-91.

Jonsson D. Indirect energy associated with Swedish road transports. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research. 2007;7(3): 183-200.

Network Rail. Comparing the environmental impact of conventional and high speed rail. 2009. Available from: https://www.scribd.com/document/39653457/Comparing-Environmental-Impact-of-Conventional-and-High-Speed-Rail [Accessed 4th December 2017]

Tuchschmid M, Knörr W, Schacht A, Mottschall M, Schmied M. Carbon Footprint and environmental impact of Railway In-frastructure. Heidelberg – Zürich – Berlin: 2011.

Åkerman J. The role of high-speed rail in mitigating climate change – The Swedish case Europabanan from a life cycle perspective. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. 2011;16(3): 208-217.

DEFRA. 2013 Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting: Methodology Paper for Emission Factors. London: DEFRA; 2013.

DEFRA. 2011 Guidelines to Defra / DECC‘s GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting: Methodology Paper for Emission Factors. London: DEFRA; 2011.

Zervas E, Poulopoulos S, Philippopoulos C. CO2 emissions change from the introduction of diesel passenger cars: Case of Greece. Energy. 2006;31(14): 2915-2925.

Harwood J, Matthews C. UK Market Review: The Role of Natural Gas in Road Transport. 2013. Available from http://networks.euskills.co.uk/sites/default/files/UK%20Market%20Review%20-%20The%20Role%20of%20Natural%20Gas%20in%20Road%20Transport%2019%20Dec%2013.pdf [Accessed 4th December 2017]

IEA/UIC. Railway Handbook 2014 Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions - Focus on Infrastructure. Paris, France: IEA/UIC; 2014.

How to Cite
Mintzia D, Kehagia F, Tsakalidis A, Zervas E. A Methodological Framework for the Comparative Analysis of the Environmental Performance of Roadway and Railway Transport. PROMET [Internet]. 2018Dec.27 [cited 2019Jun.19];30(6):721-3. Available from: https://traffic.fpz.hr/index.php/PROMTT/article/view/2804