Wrong Side of the Tracks? Impact of Road and Rail Transport on the Environment: A Basis for Discussion

This article is from the third special issue devoted to the work of John Roberts, the transportation consultant who founded and managed the consultancy Transport & Environment Studies (TEST) in London. This special issue makes reports and articles from John Roberts available for the first time in electronic format. The articles and reports provide clarity, insights, and policy suggestions, particularly with regard to sustainable transport. In this issue, the reprints are focused around the idea that endless growth in vehicle numbers, car dependency, and distances travelled is avoidable. This article reprints a 1991 book-length report comparing the impact of road and rail transportation on the environment, prepared with financial contributions from the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Greenpeace. The author notes that in most English-speaking nations, road vehicles dominate decision-making and are not comparable with rail either in terms of investment or in terms of their impact on the environment. This report shows that rail systems perform much better than road in practically all matters concerning the environment. Despite media attention, the public remains inadequately informed about the environmental impacts of transportation. This report was written primarily to redress the balance and provide factual information about road and rail environmental impacts. The goal is to heighten public debate and support transport decisions that are based on environmental protection. Sections include policy context, mini case studies, human health, air pollution, noise pollution and vibration, land use and ecology, and resource consumption, including energy. A subject index concludes this report.


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  • Accession Number: 01711137
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 17 2019 11:36AM