James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Rail not as green as you might think

June 8, 2009

Here is an interesting bit from New Scientist that the White House might want to consider before spending billions on high-speed rail:

Crisscrossing the US with a rail network, however, creates a different problem. More than half of the life-cycle emissions from rail come not from the engines’ exhausts, but infrastructure development, such as station building and track laying, and providing power to stations, lit parking lots and escalators.

Any government considering expanding its rail network should take into account the emissions it will generate in doing so, Chester says. Setting up a public transportation system that only a small proportion of the population uses could generate more emissions than it cuts, he adds – especially if trains and buses are not well connected.

“New rail systems should serve as links to other transit modes, as is often the case in Europe and Japan,” he says. “We should avoid building rail systems that are disconnected from major population areas and require car trips and parking to access.”

Comments

“Setting up a public transportation system that only a small proportion of the population uses..” A large portion will have to use it, just as in Europe, because we can’t keep up this gas-guzzling crap forever.

Posted by C. C. Millah | Report as abusive
 

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