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Can high speed rail offset its embedded emissions?


  • Westin, Jonas

    () (KTH)

  • Kågeson, Per

    () (KTH)


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the climate benefit of investments in high speed rail-way lines given uncertainty in future transport demand, technology and power production. To capture the uncertainty of estimated parameters, distributions for the annual traffic emissions reduction required to compensate for the embedded emissions from the construction of infrastructure are calculated using Monte Carlo simulation. In order to balance the annualized emissions from the railway construction, traffic volumes of more than 10 million annual one-way trips are usually required. Most of the traffic diverted from other modes must come from aviation and the project cannot involve the extensive use of tunnels. In sparsely populated regions it may be, from a climate point of view, better to upgrade existing lines and to try to make people substitute air travel by modern telecommunications, rather than investing large amounts of resources in enabling people to travel faster and more often.

Suggested Citation

  • Westin, Jonas & Kågeson, Per, 2011. "Can high speed rail offset its embedded emissions?," Working papers in Transport Economics 2011:16, CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI).
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ctswps:2011_016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lothlorien Redmond & Patricia Mokhtarian, 2001. "The positive utility of the commute: modeling ideal commute time and relative desired commute amount," Transportation, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 179-205, May.
    2. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Salomon, Ilan, 2001. "How derived is the demand for travel? Some conceptual and measurement considerations," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 695-719, September.
    3. Salomon, Ilan & Mokhtarian, Patricia, 1998. "What Happens When Mobility-Inclined Market Segments Face Accessibility-Enhancing Policies?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt2x75525j, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiambaretto, Paul & Decker, Christopher, 2012. "Air–rail intermodal agreements: Balancing the competition and environmental effects," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 36-40.
    2. Tiziana D'Alfonso & Changmin Jiang & Valentina Bracaglia, 2015. "Air transport and high-speed rail competition: environmental implications and mitigation strategies," DIAG Technical Reports 2015-15, Department of Computer, Control and Management Engineering, Universita' degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza".
    3. Grimaldi, Raffaele & Beria, Paolo, 2013. "Open issues in the practice of cost benefit analysis of transport projects," MPRA Paper 53766, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Chester, Mikhail V. & Ryerson, Megan S., 2014. "Grand challenges for high-speed rail environmental assessment in the United States," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 15-26.
    5. Westin, Jonas & de Jong, Gerard & Vierth, Inge & Krüger, Niclas & Karlsson, Rune & Johansson, Magnus, 2015. "Baserunning - analyzing the sensitivity and economies of scale of the Swedish national freight model system using stochastic production-consumption-matrices," Working papers in Transport Economics 2015:10, CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI), revised 15 Sep 2016.
    6. Stanis£Aw Brzeziñski & Dariusz Liszewski, 2014. "Development Perspectives Of Passenger Rail Transport In Poland And Chosen European Union Countries," Advanced Logistic systems, University of Miskolc, Department of Material Handling and Logistics, vol. 8(2), pages 5-10, December.

    More about this item


    High-speed rail; CO2 emissions; Embedded emissions; Infrastructure investment; Monte Carlo simulation; Sensitivity analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning

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