Close-in view of front of train in winter
Close-in view of front of train in winter
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Sustainability at Amtrak CascadesTravel Green

First published 1 September 2022

Amtrak embraces sustainability as a way to operate our passenger rail business.

Our company-wide Sustainability Policy guides how we incorporate environmental, financial, and social considerations into our risk assessment processes and project outcomes. Over the course of the last decade we’ve implemented new technologies and changed employee behavior which resulted in reducing Amtrak greenhouse gas emissions by more than 414,054 metric tons of CO2e, equivalent to 90,048 passenger vehicles driven for one year. Now we’re focused on delivering safe and reliable service to our customers and we’re evaluating ways to improve operations in the face of changing climate conditions across the national network.

Travel Green with Amtrak

From 2010 to 2019, we reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, which is equivalent to removing roughly 51,251 passenger vehicles from the road. Through several key initiatives like energy efficiency upgrades, improved train handling, and more efficient locomotives, Amtrak has reduced fuel and energy use year-over-year. Over the next decade we’re targeting a further reduction to 40%.

In fact, rail travel produces up to 83% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than driving and up to 73% fewer emissions than flying, making Amtrak the best option to shrink your travel carbon footprint.

According to the 2021 U.S. Department of Energy Data Book, Amtrak is 46% more energy efficient than traveling by car and 34% more energy efficient than domestic air travel.

Our Commitments

Over the years, we have made a number of public sustainability commitments and below are a few examples of organizations with whom Amtrak reports and benchmarks year over year performance.


CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a voluntary framework whereby companies self-report their climate-related data and impacts. Through CDP, Amtrak commits to publicly report greenhouse gas emissions data (our carbon footprint) and information on our climate change initiatives and mitigation strategies. CDP scores range from A to E, with A indicating robust climate data and a strong understanding of corporate climate-related issues. In 2019, Amtrak received a B score, placing Amtrak among the leading transport-sector organizations with regards to identifying and managing risks and opportunities related to climate change. Our CDP climate change response can be viewed at

International Union of Railways (UIC) Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge

In signing the UIC Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge in 2015, Amtrak joined with other members of the international rail sector in pledging to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, stimulate modal shift to rail in national and international markets, actively communicate climate-friendly initiatives and publicly report data on energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

The climate responsibility pledge reads in part: “The worldwide railway community is aware that a shift towards sustainable transport is essential to achieve the internationally agreed goal of limiting climate change to a rise in average global temperature of no more than 2 degrees Celsius. The rail sector is the most emissions efficient transport mode, but as a major transport mode we acknowledge our responsibility and that further improvement is needed. This pledge sets out ambitious but achievable goals for the sectors contribution towards the solution to climate change.” See the full pledge.

Using data supplied by Amtrak and other members, the UIC and International Energy Agency (IEA) annually publish a railway handbook focused on the main energy consumption and CO2 emissions trends in the world’s railway sector. Get the latest handbook.

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Sustainability Commitment

Amtrak signed onto the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2009 as one of the founding signatories and advanced to Gold Level recognition status in May 2017. Amtrak achieved this goal by realizing energy efficiency gains through lighting projects and facility-based energy plans, adopting green building codes and standards such as the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), and obtaining Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) certifications for stations.

Our Pledge - Net Zero Emissions by 2045

Amtrak announced plans to achieve net zero greenhouse-gas emissions across its network by 2045.

The new goal focuses on expanding efforts across the railroad's entire carbon footprint to reduce the environmental impacts of operations.

Amtrak outlined a series of actions it plans to take to achieve net zero emissions. They include:

  • increasing energy efficiency and implementing renewable fuels and energy sources;
  • reducing diesel fuel use through advanced technologies, such as fuel cells, hydrogen and batteries; and
  • achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030 by continuing to reduce consumption and gradually meet all remaining needs through carbon-free electricity.