The Houston-Dallas (I-45) corridor is the busiest route among 18 traffic corridors in Texas, USA. The expected population growth and the surge in passenger mobility may result in a significant impact on the regional environment. This study uses a life cycle framework to predict and evaluate the net changes of environmental impact associated with the potential development of a high-speed rail (HSR) System along the I-45 corridor through its life cycle. The environmental impact is estimated in terms of CO2 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per vehicle/passenger-kilometers traveled (V/PKT) using life cycle assessment. The analyses are performed referring to the Ecoinvent 3.4 inventory database through the phases: material extraction and processing, infrastructure construction, vehicle manufacturing, system operation, and end of life. The environmental benefit is evaluated by comparing the potential development of the HSR system with those of the existing transportation systems. The vehicle component, especially operation and maintenance of vehicles, is the primary contributor to the total global warming potential with about 93% of the life cycle GHG emissions. For the infrastructure component, 56.76% of GHG emissions result from the material extraction and processing phase (23.75 kgCO2eq/VKT). Various life cycle emissions of HSR except PM are significantly lower than for passenger cars.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Data is presented in the tables and figures in the paper; some intermediate data generated from the calculations are available upon request.
Andrade C, D’Agosto M (2016) The role of rail transit systems in reducing energy and carbon dioxide emissions: the case of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Sustainability 8:Article ID 150. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8020150
Bilgili L, Kuzu SL, Cetinkaya AY, Kumar P (2019) Evaluation of railway versus highway emissions using LCA approach between the two cities of Middle Anatolia. Sustain Cities Soc 49:Article ID 101635. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2019.101635
Bueno G, Hoyos D, Capellan-Perez I (2017) Evaluating the environmental performance of the high speed rail project in the Basque Country, Spain. Res Transp Econ 62:44–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.retrec.2017.02.004
Chan S, Miranda-Moreno L, Patterson Z (2013) Analysis of GHG emissions for city passenger trains: is electricity an obvious option for Montreal commuter trains? J Transp Technol 3:17–29. https://doi.org/10.4236/jtts.2013.32A003
Chang Y, Lei SH, Teng JJ, Zhang JX, Zhang LX, Xu X (2019) The energy use and environmental emissions of high-speed rail transportation in China: a bottom-up modeling. Energy 182:1193–1201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2019.06.120
Chester M, Horvath A (2010) Life-cycle assessment of high-speed rail: the case of California. Environ Res Lett 5:Article ID 014003. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014003
Chester M, Horvath A (2012) High-speed rail with emerging automobiles and aircraft can reduce environmental impacts in California’s future. Environ Res Lett 7:Article ID 034012. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/7/3/034012
Chipindula J, Botlaguduru VSV, Du HB, Kommalapati RR, Huque Z (2018) Life cycle environmental impact of onshore and offshore wind farms in Texas. Sustainability 10:Article ID 2022. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062022
Chipindula J, Botlaguduru V, Choe D, Kommalapati R (2019) MATEC Web of Conferences 271:05002. https://doi.org/10.1051/matecconf/201927105002
Dalkic G, Balaban O, Tuydes-Yaman H, Celikkol-Kocak T (2017) An assessment of the CO2 emissions reduction in high speed rail lines: two case studies from Turkey. J Clean Prod 165:746–761. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.07.045
Edenhofer O, Pichs-Madruga R, Sokona Y, Minx JC, Farahani E, Kadner S, Seyboth K (2015) IPCC, 2014: summary for policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/WGIIIAR5_SPM_TS_Volume-3.pdf
Federici M, Ulgiati S, Basosi R (2008) A thermodynamic, environmental and material flow analysis of the Italian highway and railway transport systems. Energy 33:760–775. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2008.01.010
Feigenbaum B (2013) High-speed rail in Europe and Asia: lessons for the United States. https://reason.org/wp-content/uploads/files/high_speed_rail_lessons.pdf
Grossrieder C (2011) Life-cycle assessment of future highspeed rail in Norway. Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Haas P (2014) Modal shift and high-speed rail: a review of the current literature. San José State University, San José
Hodges T (2010) Public transportation’s role in responding to climate change. U.S. Department of Transportation. https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010.pdf
Hoehne CG, Chester MV (2017) Greenhouse gas and air quality effects of auto first-last mile use with transit. Transp Res Part D Transp Environ 53:306–320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2017.04.030
Jones H, Moura F, Domingos T (2017) Life cycle assessment of high-speed rail: a case study in Portugal. Int J Life Cycle Assess 22:410–422. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-016-1177-7
Kaewunruen S, Sussman JM, Einstein HH (2015) Strategic framework to achieve carbon-efficient construction and maintenance of railway infrastructure systems. Front Environ Sci 3:Article ID 6
Kamga C, Yazici MA (2014) Achieving environmental sustainability beyond technological improvements: potential role of high-speed rail in the United States of America. Transp Res Part D Transp Environ 31:148–164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2014.06.011
Khasreen M, Banfill P, Menzies G (2009) Life-cycle assessment and the environmental impact of buildings: a review. Sustainability 1:674–701. https://doi.org/10.3390/su1030674
Krezo S, Mirza O, He Y, Makim P, Kaewunruen S (2016) Field investigation and parametric study of greenhouse gas emissions from railway plain-line renewals. Transp Res Part D Transp Environ 42:77–90
Lin JY, Li HM, Huang W, Xu WT, Cheng SH (2019) A carbon footprint of high-speed railways in China: a case study of the Beijing-Shanghai line. J Ind Ecol 23:869–878. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12824
Liu RF, Li A (2012) Forecasting high-speed rail ridership using a simultaneous modeling approach. Transp Plan Technol 35:577–590. https://doi.org/10.1080/03081060.2012.701816
Massetti E, Brown M, Lapsa M, Sharma I, Bradbury J, Cunliff C, Li Y (2017) Environmental quality and the U.S. power sector: air quality, water quality, land use and environmental justice. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1339359-environmental-quality-power-sector-air-quality-land-use-environmental-justice
Matute JM, Chester MV (2015) Cost-effectiveness of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from High-Speed Rail and urban transportation projects in California. Transp Res Part D Transp Environ 40:104–113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2015.08.008
Miyauchi T, Nagatomo T, Tsujimura T, Tsuchiya H (1999) Fundamental investigations of LCA of Shinkansen vehicles. Q Rep RTRI 40:204–209
Miyoshi C, Givoni M (2014) The environmental case for the high-speed train in the UK: examining the London–Manchester route. Int J Sustain Transp 8:107–126. https://doi.org/10.1080/15568318.2011.645124
Neuman M, Bright E (2008) Texas urban triangle: framework for future growth. https://static.tti.tamu.edu/swutc.tamu.edu/publications/technicalreports/167166-1a.pdf
Robertson S (2016) The potential mitigation of CO2 emissions via modal substitution of high-speed rail for short-haul air travel from a life cycle perspective—an Australian case study. Transp Res Part D Transp Environ 46:365–380. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2016.04.015
Robertson S (2018) A carbon footprint analysis of renewable energy technology adoption in the modal substitution of high-speed rail for short-haul air travel in Australia. Int J Sustain Transp 12:299–312. https://doi.org/10.1080/15568318.2017.1363331
Schipper L, Saenger C, Sudardshan A (2011) Transport and carbon emissions in the United States: the long view. Energies 4:563–581. https://doi.org/10.3390/en4040563
Song XD, Fu YB, Chen ZY, Liu HB (2014) Environmental impact evaluation for high-speed railway. J Central South Univ 21:2366–2371. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11771-014-2189-8
TCEQ (2019) Texas emission sources—a graphical representation. https://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/areasource/emissions-sources-charts. Accessed 10 2018
Todorovich P, Hagler Y (2011) High speed rail in America. http://www.america2050.org/2011/01/high-speed-rail-in-america.html
Transforming Travel In Texas. Assessing passenger demand for high-speed train service between North Texas, the Brazos Valley and Greater Houston: an updated analysis of consumer demand and ridership. https://www.texascentral.com/ridership/
USDOE (2015) Advancing clean transportation and vehicle systems and technologies in quadrennial technology review 2015 Omnibus—an assessment of energy technologies and research opportunities. https://www.energy.gov/quadrennial-technology-review-2015-omnibus#chap8ta
USDT-FRA (2017) Dallas to Houston high-speed rail draft environmental impact statement appendix E. https://cms8.fra.dot.gov/current-environmental-reviews/dallas-houston-high-speed-rail/dallas-houston-high-speed-rail-draft
USEIA (2019a) Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by state, 2005–2016. https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/state/analysis/. Accessed 17 July 2018
USEIA (2019b) How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation? https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=77&t=11%22. Accessed 20 June 2019
USEPA sources of greenhouse gas emissions. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions. Accessed 25 May 2019
Yue Y et al (2015) Life cycle assessment of high speed rail in China. Transp Res Part D Transp Environ 41:367–376
Zhang M, Chen B (2009) Future travel demand and its implications for transportation infrastructure investments in the Texas Triangle. University of Texas at Austin. Center for Transportation Research. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/16880
Zhao Y, Yu HB (2018) A door-to-door travel time approach for evaluating modal competition of intercity travel: a focus on the proposed Dallas-Houston HSR route. J Transp Geogr 72:13–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2018.07.008
This work is funded through a grant from the Transportation Consortium of South Central States (Tran-SET), a USDOT funded University Transportation Center, Award # 18PPPVU01. Partial support was also received from NSF CREST Center for Energy & Environmental Sustainability at Prairie View A&M University, NSF Award # 1036593.
Grant from the Transportation Consortium of South Central States (Tran-SET), a USDOT funded University Transportation Center, Award # 18PPPVU01. Partial support received from NSF CREST Center for Energy and Environmental Sustainability at Prairie View A&M University, NSF Award # 1036593.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest. The sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Chipindula, J., Du, H., Botlaguduru, V.S.V. et al. Life cycle environmental impact of a high-speed rail system in the Houston-Dallas I-45 corridor. Public Transp (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12469-021-00264-2
- High-speed rail
- Life cycle assessment
- Environmental impact
- GHG emissions
- Transportation mode