A new study has suggested that investing in high-speed rail can bring various benefits, but should not be marketed as a major part of efforts to combat climate change. The study, 'The Future of Interurban Passenger Transport' by the Swedish transport economist Per Kågeson, calculates the effect on emissions from building a new high speed line connecting two major cities 500 kilometres apart. It says there is no reason to prohibit investment in high-speed rail on environmental grounds as long as the carbon gains outweigh the emissions during construction, but the greenhouse gas savings are sufficiently small that it would be wrong to justify such investment as a solution to climate change.
The head of the European Environment Agency says transport trends are still 'pointing in the wrong direction'. She was speaking as the EEA issued a report saying greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the EU have increased by 36% from 1990-2006.
Most CO2 emissions from high-speed rail are a result of deforestation related to the construction of new railway lines. That's the preliminary conclusion from a report by a French rail track company RFF, due to be published in June, that develops a lifecycle assessment for the carbon footprint of high-speed rail.