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Welcome to the NS Carbon Calculator


Rail is the greenest and most efficient way to ship freight over land.  Each year, Norfolk Southern helps our customers avoid almost 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions compared with shipping by highway, delivering the low carbon economy.

As greater emphasis is being placed on scope 3 emissions, companies are publicly committing to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  Our customers have expressed the need for a higher degree of transparency with respect to measuring supply chain emissions and tools for incorporating carbon and ESG into their shipping decisions.

The Norfolk Southern Carbon Calculator is our response to that need, applying a science-based approach to estimating avoided emissions for shipping freight by rail versus truck. 

Truck mileage and rail mileage are approximated independently using best practices garnered from each industry, as applicable. Truck emissions presented on the calculator are determined using estimation standards from the trucking industry. 

Our rail emissions estimates are backed by careful data analysis applied to over 7 million shipments representing 18 railcar types and 30 commodities plus intermodal.  This generates avoided emissions estimates that are more accurate, within a reasonable tolerance, for each commodity on a lane by lane basis. 

Click “CALCULATE EMISSIONS” to estimate how much carbon emissions you can avoid by shipping with NS.

Visit the Norfolk Southern Sustainability page for information on the many ways we’re taking deliberate action to champion sustainability initiatives for our customers, our community, and our environment.  We’re in the business of a better planet.

Mileage and emissions results presented on the Norfolk Southern Carbon Calculator are estimates that are for informational purposes only.  The spatial boundary of the calculator is both the North American rail network as well as the North American interstate and road network used to transport freight.  Truck and rail mileage calculations are derived independently using industry best practices and trip planning software.  Rail ton-miles per gallon, repositioning factors and handling factors are based on findings from internal analysis of Norfolk Southern historical shipment data.


Norfolk Southern Carbon Calculator assumptions:

Long haul truck MPG: 6.5 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

Dray truck MPG: 6.0 (Federal Railroad Administration: Comparative Evaluation of Rail and Truck Fuel Efficiency on Competitive Corridors)

Long haul truck idling factor: 7% (Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Class-8 Heavy Truck Duty Cycle Project Final Report)

Long haul truck repositioning factor: tanker - 82.8%, non-tanker - 20.5% (American Transportation Research Institute: An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking: 2021 Update)

Dray truck repositioning factor: tanker - 82.8%, non-tanker - 20.5% (American Transportation Research Institute: An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking: 2021 Update)

Global warming potential factors (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: IPCC AR5)

Average weight per finished vehicle (lbs): 4,287.392 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Greenhouse gas mobile combustion factors (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)