Many people would argue that train travel is one of the most sustainable modes of transportation. According to the Railway Association of Canada, Canada’s rail sector moves more than 70% of all surface goods each year, yet only accounts for 3.4% of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and less than 1% of Canada’s overall emissions.
Did you know, in North America the average service life of a train is between 30 and 50 years? That’s way longer than cars, trucks, and planes. Trains can actually last a lot longer but to ensure public safety, they are retired after 50 years. Rail cars are designed to last.
At the end of its life, almost all of parts of a rail car or locomotive can be recycled.
Once a rail car is taken out of service, it can be reused in many different ways. The Toronto Transit Commission converted old subway trains to collect waste from the subway stations at the end of each day. Some trains are displayed in museums, including one in north Halton! And other rail cars have been re-purposed as restaurant diners or have been converted into living areas. Rail cars have also been identified as great objects to be used as artificial reefs.
So next time you hop on board — either for a short commute into Toronto or a longer trip to the coast — think about how the train could be reused and recycled.