Ex-Ford engineer Richard Parry-Jones is now chairman-designate of the UK's Network Rail. Having looked into the futures of both car and train development, he believes that by the end of this decade the most Earth-friendly internal-combustion engine cars will be about as polluting, on a per-passenger basis, as high-speed electric trains.

Parry-Jones says carmakers are targeting 40g/km of CO2 tailpipe emissions by 2020. If the "average" occupancy of 1.6 people-per-vehicle stays the same in eight years, that would equal 25 gm per person per kilometer and put such cars in the same environmental category as the cleanest mass transit.

Since the emissions of electric cars and trains is usually given as zero, we're assuming he means diesel-electric high-speed trains; life-cycle emissions wouldn't be a valid comparison since those aren't factored into a car's tailpipe number. According to The Guardian's table of emission numbers by transport, right now you'd have to load four folks in a small diesel topped up with ultra-low sulphur fuel to get down to 42 grams per passenger per kilometer (gpkm), which would put you right with one of Virgin's Voyager class diesel-electric trains at 75-percent capacity. If you want to go all the way low, though, you'll need a 50cc two-stroke and a passenger: at that point you're rocking just 19.5 gpkm. Slowly.


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  • 23 Comments
      Tweaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      Must be a slow news day. Fix your headline AB, it isn't beating an "electric" train. Big diff.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      A two-stroke engine is your emissions solution? They are horrible on trace emissions. There are no Diesel true high-speed trains. They all pick up electricity from the trackside. Anyway, so cars drop to 25g/km. Trains are expect to stand still?
      Steven Chang
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sorry, but I would never buy a Volt. My Prius gets 51mpg and costs 10-15k less to buy.
        vc-10
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steven Chang
        You can't drive your Prius to work every day without using any gas at all...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steven Chang
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      SooooRight
      • 2 Years Ago
      Keep fuking that chicken autoblog.
      • 2 Years Ago
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        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        Trains, just like highways, are a form of transportation. Does Britain not spend billions on road construction and maintenance? Would you rather have all those people who are on trains clogging up the highways further?
        vc-10
        • 2 Years Ago
        Where'd you get that figure from? The Fiesta Econetic gets 78.5 mpg combined (Imperial gallons) according to Ford's website, with 95g CO2/km. The VW Polo Bluemotion gets 80.7mpg combined, which would be a better example! And a hybrid would be a terrible idea- the weight increase would be too much for a small car like a Fiesta.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @vc-10
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          • 2 Years Ago
          @vc-10
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        That Kid
        • 2 Years Ago
        British Rail was broken into pieces and privatized around 1995. Does it still receive money from the British government: yes. In fact, after privatization, the amount of government expenditure on rail transportation increased in real terms by over 210%! Still despite the structural inefficiencies and the relatively minimal investment on expanding services, upgrading track or modernizing rolling stock ridership has gone up by about 85% since the mid 90s! You seem to give the impression that passenger rail in the UK is a government enterprise, which hasn't been true for some time. Also, your argument ignores the very active- and even more expensive- role the government has played in promoting the growth of road transportation since after the Second World War. The harshest critics of investment in rail transport routinely ignore the fact that the expenditure on highways and other road related infrastructure is many times larger than the investment in rail! As for the NHS: absolute rubbish. Britons are scared to death of being stuck with a for-profit health care free-for-all like we have in the States. Are the problems within the NHS that ought to be remedied? Yes. But switching to a private insurance system, especially one without strong regulatory protections for patients, would be an unmitigated disaster and it is highly unlikely that more than 30% of the British public would ever support it. Even Cameron knows better than to openly call for dismantling the NHS!
        rocketmoose
        • 2 Years Ago
        Why do you have to bring politics into this?
      johann519
      • 2 Years Ago
      This still doesn't factor in the huge amount of embodied energy in the hundreds of cars that would haul the same number of people as a single train.
      Justin Shaw
      • 2 Years Ago
      Slow news day
      • 2 Years Ago
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      • 2 Years Ago
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