December 20, 2012

High Speed Rail Benefits, Costs, Criticism and Responses

Invensysrail provides an analysis of high speed rail (HSR).

HSR investment has commonly resulted in:
* reduced travel times;
* reduced congestion on established modes of transport;
* improved access to markets and commerce;
* decreased carbon footprint in comparison to road and air transport;
* and creating industry growth and export opportunities

Wikipedia - Very few high-speed trains consume diesel or other fossil fuels but the power stations that provide electric trains with power can consume fossil fuels. In Japan and France, with very extensive high speed rail networks, a large proportion of electricity comes from nuclear power. On the Eurostar, which primarily runs off the French grid, emissions from traveling by train from London to Paris are 90% lower than by flying. Even using electricity generated from coal or oil, high speed trains are significantly more fuel-efficient per passenger per kilometer traveled than the typical automobile because of economies of scale in generator technology.

Reduced travel times.
* HSR offers faster net travel times than conventional road, rail and air travel between distances of approximately 150 kilometres (km) and 800 km.
* For distances shorter than 150 km, the competitive advantage of HSR over conventional rail is decreased drastically by station processing time and travel to
and from stations.
* For distances longer than 800 km, the higher speed of air travel compensates for slow airport processing times and long trips to and from airports.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) lists
the following environmental and energy benefits from high-speed rail:

Energy Efficiencies of HSR Passenger Rail

* 2,709—The number of British Thermal Units used per passenger mile by train, compared to 3,264 by airline and 3,445 by auto (U.S. Department of Energy, 2005).

* 17 percent—Passenger rail is 17 percent more fuel efficient than airlines on a per passenger mile basis. (U.S. Department of Energy, USDOT Preliminary National Rail Plan).

* 21 percent—Passenger rail is 21 percent more fuel efficient than vehicles on a per passenger basis (U.S. Department of Energy, USDOT Preliminary National Rail Plan).
* 8 million—Number of autos that passenger rail service displaces from the roads each year. (National Association of Rail Passengers)

* 50,000 —The number of fully loaded passenger airplanes that passenger rail displaces each year (National Association of Rail Passengers).

Environmental Benefits
* 71 percent—reduction of carbon dioxide emission by train, per passenger mile, compared to auto.

* 76 percent—reduction of carbon dioxide emission by train, compared to air.

The American Public Transportation association has an 88 page document that accumulates all of the criticism of high speed rail and provides responses.

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