Researchers have (unsurprisingly) found that high-speed rail in California is definitely green. Opponents have held that the high-speed rail, with its 68 billion dollar price tag, may not be worth the trouble, but in a recent study researchers show that the rail project will be a positive investment, reducing emissions and easing travel congestion.
According to the researchers, future automobiles with higher fuel standards, air travel and new train designs must be considered when developing impact assessments. The two-year study by UC Berkley professor Arpad Horvath and Arizona State University’s School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment professor Mikhail Chester shows that a high speed rail system will in fact consume less fuel and emit less pollution than air and car travel.
Although rail travel is certainly not carbon-neutral (since creating electricity still produces greenhouse gas emissions), the study shows a definite, if slight, environmental impact. Hard numbers are not available yet, according to the researchers, but with the increasing number of renewable energy plants, the environmental benefit will also increase, making high speed rail an attractive option that will only get better with time.