High-speed rail with emerging automobiles and aircraft can reduce environmental impacts in Californias future

Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sustainable mobility policy for long-distance transportation services should consider emerging automobiles and aircraft as well as infrastructure and supply chain life-cycle effects in the assessment of new high-speed rail systems. Using the California corridor, future automobiles, high-speed rail and aircraft long-distance travel are evaluated, considering emerging fuel-efficient vehicles, new train designs and the possibility that the region will meet renewable electricity goals. An attributional per passenger-kilometer-traveled life-cycle inventory is first developed including vehicle, infrastructure and energy production components. A consequential life-cycle impact assessment is then established to evaluate existing infrastructure expansion against the construction of a new high-speed rail system. The results show that when using the life-cycle assessment framework, greenhouse gas footprints increase significantly and human health and environmental damage potentials may be dominated by indirect and supply chain components. The environmental payback is most sensitive to the number of automobile trips shifted to high-speed rail, and for greenhouse gases is likely to occur in 20-30years. A high-speed rail system that is deployed with state-of-the-art trains, electricity that has met renewable goals, and in a configuration that endorses high ridership will provide significant environmental benefits over existing modes. Opportunities exist for reducing the long-distance transportation footprint by incentivizing large automobile trip shifts, meeting clean electricity goals and reducing material production effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034012
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

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Automobiles
Aircraft
Life Cycle Stages
Electricity
Environmental impact
Rails
automobile
aircraft
environmental impact
Life cycle
life cycle
electricity
infrastructure
Greenhouse gases
footprint
Gases
Supply chains
train
greenhouse gas
Environmental Health

Keywords

  • greenhouse gas
  • high-speed rail
  • life-cycle assessment
  • transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

High-speed rail with emerging automobiles and aircraft can reduce environmental impacts in Californias future. / Chester, Mikhail; Horvath, Arpad.

In: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 7, No. 3, 034012, 2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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