There is a lot of discussion these days about
footprints. Not the kind left by a pair of muddy
boots, but the type that refers to the impressions
we leave on the planet with respect to land use,
energy and the environment. As we approach
Earth Day celebrations in April, I’d like to share
with you some of the things Amtrak is doing—
and has been doing for a while now—to serve as
one of the forms of transportation with the lowest environmental impact.
Most Amtrak riders know that it is a convenient, comfortable and cost-efficient way to
travel, but you may not be aware that by choosing
Amtrak, you—on an individual and collective
level—are minimizing what’s known as your
“carbon footprint”—essentially, your contribution to the emission of greenhouse gases. Did you
know that based on U.S. Department of Energy
data, Amtrak is 17 percent more efficient than domestic airline travel and 21 percent more efficient
than auto travel on a per-passenger-mile basis? In
fact, when you combine modes of transportation,
passenger railroads emit only . 2 percent of the
transportation industry’s total greenhouse gases.
With electric train service and fuel-efficient
diesel locomotives, Amtrak has long been an
industry leader in environmental initiatives.
In fact, we have cut diesel fuel consumption by
8 percent between 1999 and 2006.
We’ve undertaken a range of conservation
programs. Some examples include our regenerative braking system on Acela Express locomotives, which sends about 8 percent of the energy
produced when the brakes are applied back into
Amtrak’s overhead electrification system for use
by other trains. We’ve also reduced diesel engine
idling with the installation of an automatic engine
start/stop modification and more efficient use of
ground power at our facilities.
Amtrak is a charter member of the Chicago
Climate Exchange, the world’s first legally binding
integrated greenhouse gas reduction and trading
system. When Amtrak joined the growing organization in 2003, we committed to cutting diesel
emissions by 6 percent by 2010. This represents
the largest percentage reduction commitment in
the United States on a voluntary basis, and it’s the
first made by a transportation company.
In addition to choosing Amtrak for your travel
needs, there are other ways you can contribute to
the conservation effort. Via our partnership with
Carbonfund.org, each time you buy a ticket on
Amtrak.com you can offset the carbon footprint
generated by your travel by making a contribution
to Carbonfund.org. Your contribution funds your
choice of offset type, such as tree planting.
You may not have considered your carbon
footprint when you made your reservation for
your trip. Maybe you simply chose Amtrak for
the myriad reasons millions of Americans prefer
to travel by rail—but now you know that making
that choice has other benefits, too.
We’re glad that you’ve chosen Amtrak and
thank you for your patronage. We’ll continue
to explore the ways we can make you more comfortable and do our part to preserve the natural
beauty you may notice outside your window.
Chief Executive Officer