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Environmental Benefits of High-Speed Rail
A nationwide high-speed rail network could mean 29 million fewer car trips and 500,000 fewer plane flights annually, according to a 2006 study. That would save 6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of removing a million cars from the road annually.
High-speed rail reduces our dependence on foreign oil, protects the environment and is an ecologically responsible way to utilize land and natural resources.
The environmental advantages continue to increase as more ridership goes up.
- Additional passengers or baggage do not increase the amount of pollution generated by rail travel.
- One railroad track offers as much passenger capacity as 10 lanes of highway.
- Next generation locomotives are six more fuel efficient than those built 10 years ago.
- High-speed electric trains need only one-third of the energy of an airplane and one-fifth that of an automobile.
- The total predicted emissions savings of the California high-speed electric train system is up to 12 billion pounds of CO2 per year by 2030 and would grow with higher ridership.
- Rail travel has proven to be three times more energy efficient than highway travel and six times more energy efficient than air travel, according to Department of Transportation approved studies.
- The vehicles we drive release over 1.7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, contributing to global climate change. Each gallon of gasoline you burn creates 20 pounds of CO2. That’s about 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year for a typical vehicle.
Expanding airports and highways impacts wetlands and water resources, increases noise pollution and is detrimental to farmlands and wildlife. High-speed rail is a cleaner transportation option that reduces the need for new runways and traffic lanes, creating more convenient transportation with less environmental damage.