HSR's energy/emissions promise and peril

From Lisa Schweitzer: Sustainable Cities and Transport blog HSR's energy/emissions promise and peril

Reviewing a recent study (Horvath and Chester (2010) "Life-cycle assessment of high-speed rail: the case of California" Environmental Research Letters 5 014003
doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014003), Dr. Schweitzer notes of HSR:


Being the cleanest mode per passenger hinges on getting a critical mass of people using it. The timeframe for payback on emissions invested in the colossal investment: about 70 years. I won't see it, but my students might.

Ok, so this is better than Charles Lave found for BART (Lave, Charles. 1976. The Negative Energy Impact of Modern Rail-Transit Systems Science, February 11, 1977. Vol. 195, pp. 595-596.) , which required even more construction underground, but it is not a good payback period by any means. And this is assuming conventional modes as competition. Remember, you have to skate to where the puck will be, not where it was.

David Levinson

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on July 4, 2010 9:42 AM.

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