How Big Are the Environmental Benefits of High-Speed Rail? A Cost-Benefit Analysis of High-Speed Rail Replacing Automobile Travel in the Georgetown-San Antonio Corridor
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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the environmental impact of a high-speed rail network operating in the Georgetown-San Antonio corridor. Methods: This research uses a cost-benefit analysis methodology in order to determine whether high-speed rail will reduce the annual carbon dioxide levels produced by automobiles in the Georgetown-San Antonio corridor. The data used for this study derive from existing published studies. The study then compares five types of high-speed rail technologies that are planned for use in the United States to determine which option has the lowest annual output of CO2 during operation. Results: The results show that high-speed rail significantly reduces annual carbon dioxide levels within the corridor due to the cancelling out of annual automobile trips in the Georgetown-San Antonio corridor. The German Intercity Express (ICE) is found to be the appropriate high-speed rail technology to have operating in the corridor, in producing the lowest annual emission cost of carbon dioxide of the five high-speed rail technologies. Conclusion: Operation of a German Intercity Express (ICE) high-speed rail network would benefit communities in the Georgetown-San Antonio corridor by reducing the annual amount of automobile carbon dioxide emissions.