Find your route to kicking the carbon habit

Find your route to kicking the carbon habit

How to Decarbonise Railways

There are many routes to decarbonising railways and there is no one solution that fits all rail networks. Here we explore the routes open to achieving decarbonisation on our journey to net zero transport for both passengers and freight and the support Ricardo can provide on your journey

Explore the route options with examples below to see how Ricardo can help you along your route to kicking the carbon habit. Read down for further expert advice on how to choose the route best suited to you. 

Working at the intersection of transport, energy and environment for more than 100 years

We can help your rail organisation identify and work towards achieving its decarbonisation and net-zero goals. Everyone is starting their decarbonisation journey from a unique position; some will choose a steep climb and others may prefer a slower route or even a different end point. Each customer journey will have its unique set of challenges. One solution does not fit all. 

Our experts can be with you every step of your carbon climb. Whilst we can’t remove the challenges, we can help to navigate the path best suited for you, avoiding the worst of the obstacles and finding the most effective route to the top. Harry Ricardo, our founder, born in 1885, set out “to maximise efficiency and eliminate waste”.  We have been doing this ever since, to provide railways and a planet that are truly fit for the future.

Planning your Decarbonisation Journey

Know where you are starting from

Ricardo have supported and guided corporations, governments, and industry bodies in developing validated carbon baselines for decades.

Agree a roadmap / railmap

Developing strategy in an uncertain world without knowing future policy and legislation is difficult but we can help you to eliminate the risk with a range of expertise and tools.

Agree your end goals

• Are your objectives carbon net-zero or wider sustainability?
• Are you looking at your company in isolation or across the entire supply chain?


Different objectives will lead to different choices.





Make a difference

Start with the quick wins to drive the biggest impact immediately. For example, advanced energy optimisation tools can reduce energy consumption with minimal technical intervention. 

Navigate the options
while looking to
the future

Batteries or hydrogen? Alternative fuels? On-board or off-board energy storage? Transition now or wait for the technology to mature? The choices are never black and white, and decisions today may be seen in a different light tomorrow. 

Constant evolution

This is not a story written once and fixed for time, rather it is an evolutionary journey. With our unique combination of rail expertise, environmental science, and ability to create technical solutions, we have the experience to guide you safely along this path.

Ricardo supported over 20 countries in development of their climate commitments for the November 2021 COP26 climate conference

Supporting railways for a cleaner, low-carbon world

As a member of the Ricardo group, we can call on a deep pool of multi-sector expertise to supplement the work of our rail experts.

For example, we draw on engineers who are specialists in low-emission technologies within the automotive sector or environmental analysts who advise governments and financial institutions on sustainability targets and environmental policies.

We support sustainability initiatives from feasibility to delivery. Notable projects range from a partnership role in the world's first solar-powered railway to providing technical support during the conversion of diesel rolling stock to hybrid-battery and hydrogen power

Our energy management experts help clients identify operational efficiency gains and can also support the implementation of action plans accompanied by proven monitoring technologies. If you would like to speak to our experts then contact us via the form

Putting Industry Issues Under the Spotlight

With expertise in both railways and the environment, energy and railway sectors, it should be no surprise that Ricardo have also been an integral part of industry research programmes on decarbonisation, air quality and the future costs of alternative traction power sources.  See below for more information

With 3000 engineers spanning multiple sectors sited across the globe, sharing relevant knowledge and news across our own organisation is part of what we do. We can also offer access to these insights for you to enable you to form your own views. If you'd like to keep up to date on net-zero and decarbonisation news, then take a look at our subscriptions.

We trust you'll find a wealth of useful content, ideas, and information in the sections above, looking at different routes to railway decarbonisation. 

If you cannot find the answer to your question, have a project in an area we have not mentioned here, or you just want to be put in touch with the right person to help you make the next step on your decarbonisation journey then get in touch with us using the form below.

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