Rail is expected to become the backbone of future mobility in the world as the cleanest and greenest high-volume transport. Rail generates the lowest CO2 emissions and energy consumption when in operation, with respect to the other transportation modes, but during construction and maintenance phases, its environmental impacts are significant and need to be carefully assessed and properly mitigated. This paper, through an extensive analysis of the recent literature, aims to provide a comprehensive framework of trends and challenges in railway sustainability, with particular attention paid to track and related materials and components, maintenance strategies, and methods of assessment of sustainability. The followed approach takes into consideration the lifespan of the track and the related main stages. The results show that: (i) several innovative sustainable materials have been introduced with significant environmental performances and limitations, mainly due to the lack of knowledge of long-term mechanical behavior; (ii) appropriate strategies of maintenance, supported by effective monitoring of the track conditions, can reduce negative effects on the environment and society and contribute to making this transportation mode greener; (iii) many devices for the automated detection of the track defects allow increasingly widespread and effective monitoring of the track and are essential means in overcoming the challenge of "smart rails"; and (iv) life cycle assessment (LCA) and circularity metrics are effective and indispensable tools in the decision-making process, since they help to quantify the potential environmental enhancement of different materials and solutions.

Trends and Challenges in Railway Sustainability: The State of the Art regarding Measures, Strategies, and Assessment Tools

Giunta, M
2023-01-01

Abstract

Rail is expected to become the backbone of future mobility in the world as the cleanest and greenest high-volume transport. Rail generates the lowest CO2 emissions and energy consumption when in operation, with respect to the other transportation modes, but during construction and maintenance phases, its environmental impacts are significant and need to be carefully assessed and properly mitigated. This paper, through an extensive analysis of the recent literature, aims to provide a comprehensive framework of trends and challenges in railway sustainability, with particular attention paid to track and related materials and components, maintenance strategies, and methods of assessment of sustainability. The followed approach takes into consideration the lifespan of the track and the related main stages. The results show that: (i) several innovative sustainable materials have been introduced with significant environmental performances and limitations, mainly due to the lack of knowledge of long-term mechanical behavior; (ii) appropriate strategies of maintenance, supported by effective monitoring of the track conditions, can reduce negative effects on the environment and society and contribute to making this transportation mode greener; (iii) many devices for the automated detection of the track defects allow increasingly widespread and effective monitoring of the track and are essential means in overcoming the challenge of "smart rails"; and (iv) life cycle assessment (LCA) and circularity metrics are effective and indispensable tools in the decision-making process, since they help to quantify the potential environmental enhancement of different materials and solutions.
2023
railway
track
sustainability
materials
maintenance
monitoring
circular economy
life cycle assessment
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12318/141966
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 0
social impact