Abstract Paper aims Propose a method to calculate and evaluate the pollutants emissions generated by the track maintenance process considering the life cycle of the three components: ballast, sleepers and rail. Originality After the literature review, we did not find any published research that quantifies, in an integrated way, the atmospheric pollutants emissions generated by the track maintenance process considering each component life cycle. Research method The proposed method was based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. The method was applied to Vitória-Minas Railway (EFVM) using its own data and data from its suppliers. Main findings Results show that production and delivery is the phase that emits more because of the distance from the supplier to EFVM. Two maintenance locations were tested to evaluate the impact of maintenance distance in the emissions. Several analyses were done for each pollutant emission in each phase. Implications for theory and practice The method can be used by any railway, helping managers to adopt more sustainable strategies.