Water transportation remains the most fuel-efficient way to transport goods, according to a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute.
“A Modal Comparison of Domestic Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public,” says that inland barges can move 616 ton-miles of freight, compared with 478 ton-miles by rail, and 150 ton-miles by truck. The findings are based on 2009 data, the latest complete year.
The report is an update to one that the institute published in 2007 using 2005 data. In comparison, fuel efficiency for barges was up 7 percent over 2005, while fuel efficiency for railroads increased nearly 16 percent. Trucks’ fuel efficiency dropped 3 percent.
Carriers on the inland rivers also had fewer emissions. Vessels emitted 16.4 grams of carbon dioxide and 0.27 grams of nitrous oxides. Trucks emitted 171.8 grams of CO2 and 1.45 grams of NOX.
The report divides emissions into Eastern and Western railroads, but they average 20.7 grams of CO2 and 0.33 grams of NOX.
Water transport also had fewer spills of hazardous materials; 2.5 gallons per 1 million ton-miles, compared with 4.9 gallons on rail, and 10.4 gallons on highways.