The role of rail in decarbonizing transport in Developing Countries

Transport is an imperative for economic and social development. It is the physical, social, and economic network that connects people to opportunities, goods to markets, and communities to prosperity. Improving the quality of transport infrastructure and services can help emerging economies address poverty and reduce inequality. Emerging economies with less mature transportation systems have the flexibility to explore new ways to leverage more sustainable infrastructure, policies, and technologies to leapfrog the transport system development of higher-income countries and limit the sector’s GHG emissions before they grow. By pursuing a low-carbon transport development trajectory, emerging economies can avoid lock-in to traditional, high-externality transport systems and circumvent the expensive retrofitting and replacing process that higher-income countries will be experiencing in the next few decades. The World Bank’s Decarbonization of Transport flagship activity brings together the expertise of numerous international specialists and World Bank staff to identify and characterize low-carbon transport system development pathways for lower-income countries. Starting from the economic and social development goals of emerging economies, the flagship activity sets out to define policy actions, infrastructure investments, and technologies that can help build safer, more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and also greener transport systems. The flagship activity identifies the fundamental challenges faced by passenger and freight transport systems in low- and middle-income countries and key “win-win” actions for development and climate action in the transport sector.