Container ships versus trucks and trains

This data-file tabulates c10 examples for the fuel economy of container vessels, which is a function of their size and speed.

The most efficient container ships are 2x more efficient than typical trains and 20x more efficient than typical trucks.

We calculate that moving goods from overseas to the developed world’s c1bn consumers accounts for c0.5% of global CO2 emissions (c50% in ships, c50% in trucks). These calculations are also shown in the data-file.

Power Trains? Electric, diesel or hydrogen

This data-file compares diesel trains, electric trains and hydrogen trains, according to their energy consumption, carbon emissions and fuel costs. The data are presented apples-to-apples, per passenger mile, based on worked examples. Seven train routes are compared on 20 metrics overall.

Travelling by train should be 2-15x more fuel-efficient, and 3-20x less carbon intensive than travelling by car.

Electric trains are most efficient and cost-effective. The drawback is that electrifying tracks can cost c$1.4M/km. Nevertheless, we are most positive on the electrification opportunity around railways, particularly using next-generation combustion technologies.

The world’s first hydrogen trains launched in Germany in September-2018. To be cost-competitive with entry-level diesel trains requires c$12/kg hydrogen, $6/gallon diesel and a $50/ton carbon price.

Relative costs and economics can be compared by varying inputs in the file.


Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.