Environmental impacts and associated costs of railway turnouts based on Austrian data

Matthias Landgraf, Martina Zeiner*, Dieter Christof Knabl, Francesco Corman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production and provision of railway infrastructure causes environmental impacts for several environmental indicators. The goal of this study is a single-score evaluation for environmental impacts of turnouts by calculating associated environmental costs.
The methodology includes the life cycle assessment using the CML-IA baseline method to calculate mid-point indicators. Monetary valuation models are investigated as a basis for environmental pricing. Turnouts equipped with USP result in lower annual environmental costs (EC) of €429 than turnouts with conventional concrete sleepers (€495). Of the assessed impact categories, global warming potential (GWP) is responsible for the vast majority of EC with values from 87% to 97%. The main uncertainties lie within the emission factors to calculate mid-point indicators and the deviation within the environmental pricing schemes. Steel and concrete production, circular economy, use of alternative propulsion systems for track work machinery, and efficient maintenance strategies are major potentials for mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103168
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Issue number103
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Embodied emissions
  • Environmental costs
  • Environmental pricing
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Railway infrastructure
  • Railway switches
  • Railway turnouts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Transportation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering

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