Friday, August 3, 2012
SAN DIEGO High-speed rail in California will be an environmental plus, even in a future world of much cleaner cars. That's the conclusion of two university researchers who examined California's bullet-train proposal.
The proposed high-speed rail system in California may be expensive, but two researchers say it will almost certainly reduce California's greenhouse emissions.
California's high-speed rail line has gotten a lot of bad press for its escalating cost. So its supporters will welcome the study by professors Mikhail Chester of Arizona State University and Arpad Horvath of UC Berkeley.
Their study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, and it says high-speed rail will reduce California's carbon footprint. This will be true even when considering the fuel needed to build the system, and more fuel-efficient cars and planes in the future.
The study tried to control for many variables, including the likelihood that California's future electrical grid will run on on more renewable energy.
"It's an infrastructure system that could be added to help reduce the long-distance transportation footprint," said Chester. "I think that's the bottom line."
Researchers found that even in scenarios where ridership does not reach the levels the rail authority expects, the system will still bring a net reduction in greenhouse emissions.
But does this mean high speed rail in California is really worth its estimated cost of $100 billion?
"I don't have any comment on the cost," said Chester.