Category Archives: Trains and the environment

Articles about the impact of trains on the environment.



High speed rail delivers many layers of economic benefits  

High speed rail delivers fast, efficient transportation so riders can save time, energy, and money.  HSR is extremely reliable and operates in all weather conditions.  HSR is not subject to congestion, so it operates on schedule every day without delay – especially during rush hour and peak travel times.

HSR spurs the revitalization of cities by encouraging high density, mixed-use real estate development around the stations.  HSR also fosters economic development in second-tier cities along train routes.  HSR links cities together into integrated regions that can then function as a single stronger economy.  HSR broadens labor markets and offers workers a wider network of employers to choose from.  HSR encourages and enables the development of technology clusters with fast easy access between locations.  HSR also expands visitor markets and tourism while increasing visitor spending.

The many benefits HSR delivers spread throughout regions that have HSR, encouraging economic development across a large area.


High Speed Rail is Good for America and Good for Business
This is one important issue that Republicans and Democrats see the value in:  The national high speed rail network will create millions of good jobs, stimulate the economy, create entirely new industries, be the catalyst for the next real estate boom, save businesses money, increase mobility, reduce dependence on oil, reduce our annual $700 billion trade deficit (purchasing foreign oil), and significantly increase national security.



 Fast Trains

8,000 people per hour        
20,000 people per hour
(at 15 miles per hour)           
         (at 200 miles per hour)

Click both videos at the same time for side-by-side comparison

-Here’s the price Americans pay for a transport system that has become overcrowded, wasteful, slow, and expensive:  $87.2 billion a year lost in automotive gridlock, more than $750 for every U.S. traveler.  That’s more than 2.8 billion gallons of gas wasted – three weeks worth per traveler.  And time wasted in traffic jams totals 4.2 billion hours – nearly one full workweek for every traveler.
-The cost of domestic air-traffic delays, according to a 2008 analysis by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, is as much as $41 billion annually, including $19 billion in increased operational costs for the airlines and $12 billion worth of lost time for passengers.”Read More

Classic 1937 steam engine soon to run carbon-free


A 1937 steam locomotive is getting a makeover in a bid to prove the viability of solid biofuel and modern steam locomotive technology.

A steam train built in 1937 is getting a makeover that will turn it into a “higher-speed” locomotive that runs on biocoal, a coal-like fuel made with woody plant material.

When finished, the train will be able chug along existing tracks at speeds up to 130 miles per hour without contributing to the greenhouse gas pollution blamed for global warming. “Computer simulations already show that the locomotive is about as powerful as two modern passenger diesel locomotives,” Davidson Ward, president of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail.

“But it will burn carbon neutral fuel.”

The biocoal is based on a so-called torrefaction process pioneered at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks.

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Energy-Efficient Subway Systems of the World


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Date: Feb 14, 2013


According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), public transportation avoids the use of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually in the United States. While public transportation can refer to a variety of modes, APTA attributes access to bus and rail lines with reducing U.S. driving by 4,400 miles, or approximately 223 gallons of gasoline per household, annually. Subway systems are providing a great benefit to communities, but they still require a great deal of energy to operate.

While early subway systems used steam engines, almost all existing subway trains are powered by electricity. In efforts to further reduce the amount of energy needed to operate their trains, stations, and tunnels many subway operators have turned to innovative solutions- increasing their bottom line while also helping the environment.

To honor the London Underground’s 150th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of some of the world’s most energy-efficient subway systems: Learn More

Trains & the environment

In recent years many people have become concerned about climate change. Many people are now choosing to travel by train because it is better for the environment than flying or driving.

Rail travel produces half the carbon emissions of car travel and a quarter of that of air travel (measured on a per passenger kilometre basis). Carbon emissions produced by humans are one of the main causes of climate change.

Modern trains produce less carbon emissions than older trains which has helped to reduce the train’s carbon footprint by 5% in the past year and 25% in the past 10 years.

A ‘carbon footprint’ is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment. If you are keen to find out how to reduce your carbon footprint and learn ways to help the environment, have a look at the Act on CO2 website.

Train companies are committed to reducing carbon emissions and have schemes in place to make train travel ‘greener’ like brake regeneration. This is when electric trains return energy to the power supply when the train driver brakes. The train companies that use this scheme have saved 20% on the power needed to make trains run.

Other train companies are also doing things like training train drivers to drive in a way that saves energy, recycling rubbish left on trains by passengers and cutting down on food packaging on trains. All of which helps to make train travel greener.

What do you do at your house or school to be ‘greener’? Learn more


How Big Are the Environmental Benefits of High-Speed Rail? By EDWARD L. GLAESER


I’ve now reached the halfway point in this series of blog posts on the president’s “vision for high-speed rail.” The national discussion of high-speed rail must get away from high-flying rhetoric and tawdry ad hominem attacks and start weighing costs and benefits.

Environmental benefits are one potentially big plus from rail lines.


Today, I focus only on the social benefits that come from switching travelers from cars and planes to rail, not any indirect benefits associated with changing land-use patterns. I’ll get to those next week, when I also discuss high-speed rail as an economic development strategy. As I did last week, I use a simple, transparent methodology, focusing on costs and benefits during an average year. Today, I’ll estimate the environmental and other social benefits that will help offset the costs of rail. Read More