HSR promotes economic expansion (including new manufacturing jobs), creates new choices for travelers beyond flying or driving, reduces national dependence on oil, and fosters urban and rural community development.
High-Speed Rail is Green
Today’s intercity passenger rail service consumes one-third less energy per passenger-mile than cars. It is estimated that if we built high-speed rail lines on all federally designated corridors, it could result in an annual reduction of 6 billion pounds of CO2. Eurostar, a high-speed railway passenger service connecting London with Paris and Brussels, found the environmental benefit of taking the train instead of a plane is probably much greater than 90 percent.
The Western HSR program has been designed to meet the region’s significant growing needs – by the year 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Nevada will add 2.3 million new residents (114 percent increase); Arizona will add 5.6 million new residents (109 percent increase); Colorado will add 1.5 million new residents (35 percent increase); and Utah will add 1.25 million new residents (56 percent increase).
Most (88 percent) of the nation’s population growth between 2000 and 2030 will occur in the South and West, which will be home to the 10 fastest growing states over the period. The share of the population living in those regions will increase from 58 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2030, while the population in the Northeast and Midwest is projected to decline from 42 percent to 35 percent.
To fully meet the region’s growing transportation needs in a sustainable manner, and to provide residents with multiple travel choices, both roadway and transit facilities must be planned and construction schedules linked to occur in concurrent phases.
Comparison with Other Modes of Transport
High-speed rail is often viewed as an isolated system and simply as advantageous or disadvantageous as compared to other transport systems, but all transport systems must work together to maximize benefits. A good HSR system has capacity for nonstop and local services, and has good connectivity with other transport systems. All of this depends on design, implementation, maintenance, operation and funding. Operational smoothness is often more indicative of organizational discipline than technological prowess.
High-speed rail has the potential for high capacity on its fixed corridors, i.e., double-decked E4 Series Shinkansen can carry 1,634 seated passengers, and even more if standing passengers are allowed, and has the potential to relieve congestion on other modes of transportation.