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Airplane Greener Than Train?  
User currently offlineAircellist From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 1718 posts, RR: 8
Posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5914 times:

Two Berkeley researchers have published a study, claiming that over the complete lifespan of a transportation system, including building/taking care of roads, motorways, tracks, airports etc., the car is the most polluting means of transportation, but the train can be more polluting than the plane, in a territory where electricity is made by coal combustion.

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/environnem...-lavion-plus-vert-que-le-train.php
(in French)

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...-worse-for-climate-than-plane.html

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9337 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5891 times:

Could be. A simple fact is, that a flight that does not reach an average load factor of at least 60+ over a longer period will be cancelled or operated by a smaller aircraft, thus reaching a better load factor.

This kind of flexibility is not possible for a train operator. German rail operates the ICE trains every hour, reagrdless how full they are. Commuter trains are operated at least every hour, sometimes twice and urban rail systems with even higher frequencies.

I have been on ICE trains where the car was occupied by three persons, DB does not publish load factors but they are believed to be on an average 25 to 30%. That would be desastrous for every air operator. For that, the first generaqtion ICE train movs 900 tons of weight across the country......



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently onlineAADC10 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2088 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5890 times:

The article did not publish direct information from the study but I noticed that the comparison was with a mass transit train vs. a jumbo jet traveling across Boston. It is a apples or oranges comparison because load factors on airliners are almost always high, while off hours ridership of mass transit is often low. Obviously people would not and cannot fly for such a short trip. It did not compare the relative emissions of a long haul passenger train vs. a jet.

The real criticism of rail in the piece appears to be related to the way rail is used in many communities where commuters drive to a suburban station to take rail into the urban core.


User currently offlineAustrianZRH From Austria, joined Aug 2007, 1384 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5879 times:

A friend of mine (PhD in mechanical engineering with specialization in renewable and sustainable energy) showed me also a paper once which claims for Swiss railways with average load factor an average energy consumption equivalent to 4 l/100 km gas (59 mpg). Heck, a car with good milage occupied by two people is better than that. As the average load factor in Switzerland is much higher than in Germany, I don't even want to know the German numbers. So, this information seems to be accurate to me.


WARNING! The post above should be taken with a grain of salt! Furthermore, it may be slightly biased towards A.
User currently offlineTharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5830 times:

I've read this paper pretty carefully before, and the news article about it is poorly written.

In general, for AVERAGE load factors, CO2 emissions per passenger mile go as follows:

cars >> aircraft > commuter train/light rail

So in general, train still has the lowest CO2 emissions.

As posters above mention, load factor matters a great deal. A full Toyota Camry is better than a 50% full plane. See Fig 3 in the original paper (http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1748-9326/4/2/024008) . An empty train is no good.

Only one of the trains they studied (Boston's MBTA Green Line) fell out of the order; it has slightly more emissions per passenger mile than large or midsized aircraft. For some reason, the author of the New Scientist article led with this tidbit.

Which, as AADC10 noted, is entirely irrelevant, since the Green Line trolley is not an alternative for a B777.

The authors failed to study a more realistic alternative for the aircraft, which is an Amtrak long-distance train.

Finally, the authors found infrastructure construction for rail (station, track) to be much more energy-intense than that for air travel (airport, runway, taxiway construction). The methodology here can be tricky - stations and airports can be more or less grandiose. DXB, PEK, HKG, KIX, ICN, anybody?? Making an artificial island has got to take a lot of energy.


One of the references cited has some tables that show energy usage and various emissions for the different aircraft flown in the EU. If such numbers are interesting to you, skim through the charts here: http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/EMEPCORINAIR4/B851vs2.4.pdf





[Edited 2009-06-25 23:44:14]

User currently offlineTharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5802 times:

Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 3):
A friend of mine (PhD in mechanical engineering with specialization in renewable and sustainable energy) showed me also a paper once which claims for Swiss railways with average load factor an average energy consumption equivalent to 4 l/100 km gas (59 mpg). Heck, a car with good milage occupied by two people is better than that. As the average load factor in Switzerland is much higher than in Germany, I don't even want to know the German numbers. So, this information seems to be accurate to me.

Assuming those numbers are accurate, the train is still much much better than the car.

Both the train and car are using 1/59 = 0.017 gallons to go one mile. The train is carrying 300-400 people; the car carries 2-3 people. The fuel used per passenger mile is therefore not even close.

[Edited 2009-06-25 23:54:39]

User currently offlineFrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3747 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5760 times:

The wiki article on high speed train lines has some interesting info.

It mentions a study by the US DOE which claims the environmental impact of high speed trains is equal to that of airplanes.

Of course, the power source is a major factor here. Electric trains get their power from ground generating stations which can generate that power from a number of sources, including renewable and non polluting/CO2 emitting ones.
Aircrafts have to burn fossil fuels, at least for the moment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail

Quoting Tharanga (Reply 4):
stations and airports can be more or less grandiose. DXB, PEK, HKG, KIX, ICN, anybody??

It's an interesting point, as the french wiki article about high speed train lines mentions that the Paris-Lyon HST track (409 Km long) occupies a surface of 1600 Hectares compared to CDG's 3200 Hectares. It would be interesting to know how much the average construction cost and CO2 produced per unit of surface is for an HST line compared to an airport.



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineCaribillo From Spain, joined Jul 2006, 218 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5682 times:



Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
It mentions a study by the US DOE which claims the environmental impact of high speed trains is equal to that of airplanes.

I think that depends on the energy source.

If we were able to have a electrical system fed 100% by nuclear power plants, the train (and any electrical transport) would be the less contaminating on earth.



Red, orange and yellow...with a big crown!
User currently offlineMBJ2000 From Germany, joined Dec 2005, 426 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5673 times:



Quoting Tharanga (Reply 5):
Assuming those numbers are accurate, the train is still much much better than the car.

Both the train and car are using 1/59 = 0.017 gallons to go one mile. The train is carrying 300-400 people; the car carries 2-3 people. The fuel used per passenger mile is therefore not even close.

I'm sure, he meant 4L/100km/pax...



Like most of life's problems, this one can be solved with bending -- Bender Unit 22
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9337 posts, RR: 29
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5634 times:



Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
It's an interesting point, as the french wiki article about high speed train lines mentions that the Paris-Lyon HST track (409 Km long) occupies a surface of 1600 Hectares compared to CDG's 3200 Hectares

to be accurate, add the rail terminals, parking and infrastructure to thaqt, The advantage air traffic has is, that from the said 3200 hectares of CDG you can go anywhere whereas the 1600 hectares are PAR-LYS only. For the beyond traffic further south, additonal acreage is necessary.

Or to use another cmparison, CDG handels 55 million pax/annually and can do double on the same acreage. I don't have the figures of PAR-LAS local traffic )excluding the beyond traffic) but I doubt that they can match these figures.

,



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineYULWinterSkies From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2178 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5629 times:



Quoting Caribillo (Reply 7):
Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
It mentions a study by the US DOE which claims the environmental impact of high speed trains is equal to that of airplanes.

I think that depends on the energy source.

This is exactly what the paper mentions: electricity produced from coal. Therefore, this idea directly applies to the US.

Quoting Aircellist (Thread starter):
but the train can be more polluting than the plane, in a territory where electricity is made by coal combustion.



Quoting Caribillo (Reply 7):
If we were able to have a electrical system fed 100% by nuclear power plants, the train (and any electrical transport) would be the less contaminating on earth.

Minus the nuclear waste, you're correct. Don't get me started on what happens to the French nuclear waste at La Hague plant.
Furthermore, nuclear energy is nothing but renewable, and is therefore not as green as many like to say.



When I doubt... go running!
User currently offlineTharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5589 times:



Quoting MBJ2000 (Reply 8):

I'm sure, he meant 4L/100km/pax...

probably; i'm feeling too lazy to make sure that falls in the right range in the units i'm used to thinking in


User currently offlineRJ111 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5572 times:

The sheer physics of operating a train are far more efficient.

If you consider a train which transports 300-400 people at a decent speed needs about 6000hp. Then consider 1 GE90-115 alone has over 100,000hp. That may give the idea as to what is naturally the more efficient.

Of course there are situations where the train's emissions are closer to the aircraft and there are situations when they are far better.

Also lets not forget, particularly in America, 10,000t frieght trains also use the same infrastructure. In other words about 100 widebody plane flights. Factor that in, and then we'll see which is more efficient overall.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8961 posts, RR: 40
Reply 13, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5447 times:



Quoting Tharanga (Reply 4):
Finally, the authors found infrastructure construction for rail (station, track) to be much more energy-intense than that for air travel (airport, runway, taxiway construction). The methodology here can be tricky - stations and airports can be more or less grandiose. DXB, PEK, HKG, KIX, ICN, anybody?? Making an artificial island has got to take a lot of energy.



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 9):

While train stations may be less grandiose, train infrastructure (acreages of it too) is thousands of miles of energy-intensive steel.

Quoting Tharanga (Reply 4):

Is the study available online?



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8961 posts, RR: 40
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5433 times:

Found it! (should be the same one)

http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9...857405-dddd-45c4-b7ae-828e2f3db672

Haven't read it yet, just sharing it with everyone.

PS: here's a better article about it:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...ALeqM5irXTG7NRNtTSzbfvj2TzpsbNTFmA



"It used 2005 models of the Toyota Camry saloon, Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV and Ford F-150 to calibrate automobile performance; the light transit systems in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston as the models for the metro and commuter lines; and the Embraer 145, Boeing 737 and Boeing 747 as the benchmarks for short-, medium- and long-haul aircraft."

[Edited 2009-06-26 07:38:49]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineVV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 7478 posts, RR: 17
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5377 times:



Quoting Tharanga (Reply 5):
Both the train and car are using 1/59 = 0.017 gallons to go one mile. The train is carrying 300-400 people; the car carries 2-3 people.

In the UK on the "average" car journey there is one driver and 0.4 passengers in eacxh car on our roads. And I doubt that this average figure of 1.4 people per car journey is greatly exceeded in the USA. My own observation - which is not scientific or statistically reliable - is that in the USA a greater proportion of cars are only carrying the driver.

In looking at the comparisons between train and aircraft the carbon footprint of the infrastructure should also be considered. For the train this should include the production of iron for the rails (divided, of course, by the number of passengers carried before track renewal is required as well as the environmental impact of constructing new, high speed lines..

Trains and cars powered by electricity are often regarded as being environmentally friendly. And at least in terms of operational emissions this is likely to be the case if the additional electricity required to power such new cars and trains comes from (new) sustainable power or highly efficient traditional power generation.

Here in the UK we have fairly significant wind farm development plans (even if there are fewer wind turbine generators in the UK today than there are in each of the 3 or 4 largest wind farms in California). However for more than 20 years government has postponed the authorisation of the construction of new major power generation systems, such as nuclear or modern, relatively efficient gas or coal power generating systems.

The impact of all of this? Well if electric-powered cars becaame commonplace, the life of old, inefficient power stations with large carbon footprints that, without the growth in electric cars we might be able to close down, will have their life extended. So the average carbon emissions per unit of power generated will be higher in the UK with a large population of electric cars than it would be with a low proportion of electric cars. And since the total consumption of electricity will rise, the absolute total carbon emissions from power generation will also rise.

So the question is whether or not old highly polluting power stations omit more or less greenhose gasses than a modern, efficient diesel or petrol (gas) powered car. My own car is diesel powered and is rated with an emission level of 115g/Km. Other cars available today are rated to below 100g/Km. While an electric car can beat these figures in theory, with the time it takes to build a new power generation facility it will probably be 20 or 25 years before the addition in the UK of a single electric-powered car to the existing automobile population will actually result in a lower total level of automobile emissions than will the addition of a modern, low emission diesel or petrol powere car.

In the meantime the airplane with a high (70 per cent plus) load factor will on average, I believe, continue to beat both road and rail provided that the carbon emissions of providing and maintaining the necessary infrastructure (air terrminals and runways; roads and service stations; rail tracks and stations) are also taken into account.

So the proposal to build new, high speed rail tracks in the UK instead of, for example, a third runway at LHR is, at least to me, a non-starter from an environmental perspective. And here we are talking of a wider environmental impact than just carbon emissions:

Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
the Paris-Lyon HST track (409 Km long) occupies a surface of 1600 Hectares compared to CDG's 3200 Hectares. It would be interesting to know how much the average construction cost and CO2 produced per unit of surface is for an HST line compared to an airport.



User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3625 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 5298 times:



Quoting VV701 (Reply 15):
So the proposal to build new, high speed rail tracks in the UK instead of, for example, a third runway at LHR is, at least to me, a non-starter from an environmental perspective.

You are talking about a little bit more pollution to initially build tracks vs. a runway compared with many years of emissions into the atmosphere. It may be less environmentally friendly to build tracks than a runway, but it is much more environmentally friendly actually running trains than airplanes.

There's also this from the English article:

More than half of the life-cycle emissions from rail come not from the engines' exhausts, but infrastructure development, such as station building and track laying, and providing power to stations, lit parking lots and escalators.

That's hardly an indictment of rail. Escalators? Parking lots? That's got nothing to do with rail, that's got to do with architecture and design. And in the United States, at least, many train stations have no escalators or parking lots.

Moreover, just looking at the simple power requirements for each mode of transportation, it's really impossible for me to see how an airplane could ever even come close to even the most polluting train in efficiency, assuming a similar load. So while I don't doubt that infrastructure makes a difference, building a train station is a one-time environmental cost, whereas running trains and airplanes is ongoing.

If you compared the same long distance route - let's say New York to Chicago - many of the train stations on that route have existed for 100 years, as have the tracks. They do need maintenance, but then so do airports and air traffic control systems, and I know for a fact that the amount spent on maintaining and upgrading JFK and ORD and their associated ATC systems over the past 50 years far outpaces the amount spent on the entire Amtrak infrastructure on the old NY Central "water level route" (they don't own the tracks, but they do own most stations). Given that, I would find it difficult to believe that even the infrastructure environmental cost favors air.

These hypothetical scenarios that could never exist in the real world (nobody's going to fly a 747 across Boston) are not really helpful in comparing environmental impact. You need to look at real-world cases.



I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8961 posts, RR: 40
Reply 17, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5251 times:



Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 16):
Given that, I would find it difficult to believe that even the infrastructure environmental cost favors air.

I haven't looked beyond wikipedia, but high-speed train tracks do need replacement, not sure how frequent but it's certainly a lot more often than every 100 years. They then get re-used in non-high-speed tracks, which means you need to allocate the steel production energy consumption between high-speed rail and where it gets re-used. This may also provide a top-speed barrier to trains, as far as being energy-efficient with the use of tracks, which would also need to be analyzed in a greater picture.

Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 16):
nobody's going to fly a 747 across Boston

I think that was just poor journalism from the source in the OP.



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineAirbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 8322 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5159 times:



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 1):
This kind of flexibility is not possible for a train operator. German rail operates the ICE trains every hour, reagrdless how full they are. Commuter trains are operated at least every hour, sometimes twice and urban rail systems with even higher frequencies.

Excelletn point. Here in Boston the commuter train runs every hour on most lines, and at least every 2 hours day, night and weekends. They're old trains, old infrastructure, running on nasty diesel, and outside of the morning and afternoon rush hours you won't find more than 50-100 people on the train. We're talking 5 and 6 car trains, some with double decker cars, that seat hundreds of people. A bus would be far more efficient and environmentaly friendly.


User currently offlineR2rho From Germany, joined Feb 2007, 2619 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 4941 times:

It's an interesting study. Worth taking a look at the pdf link, as the article is a quite poor interpretation of it. The study NEVER talks about taking a 747 into downtown Boston.

Although still I think trains are the most life-cycle efficient as long as they have decent load factors and good track utilisation rates, it adds a new and very welcome perspective to things.

Most studies going around, on which enviromentalists, politicians and the media base themselves, focus excessively on the final "tailpipe" emissions of each mode of transport. According to this widely used logic, biofuels are considered enviromentally friendly because cars emit less, even though the production of biofuels is far from being enviromentally friendly. Airplanes pollute because they emit CO2. And electric trains don't pollute at all because "there's no smoke coming out of them" - even if their electricity comes from coal fired power plants in most countries. This study challenges this view, and is thus very welcome!


User currently offlineVV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 7478 posts, RR: 17
Reply 20, posted (5 years 2 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4793 times:



Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 16):
If you compared the same long distance route - let's say New York to Chicago - many of the train stations on that route have existed for 100 years, as have the tracks.

The railroad infrastructure in the USA may be more than 100 years old. This is certainly not the case in the UK.

I live within earshot of the UK's fastest rail track, the West Coast route from London (Euston) to Scotland (Glasgow). Last year all - repeat ALL - of the track was relaid. The steel rails and concrete sleepers were all replaced as part of a partial realignment to "straighten" the track where possible along with the removal of many crossover points. All of this was to permit transit at higher speeds.

This was the second time in the 35 years I have lived in my current house that this track has been totally relaid. And my local station has been totally rebuilt on one occasion in this period (primarilly to increase the length of the platforms to allow the use of longer 12-coach trains as the number of passengers travelling by rail has increased). And every day the track - just like a runway at an airport - is inspected. Any worn or damaged rails are immediately replaced.

It is this continuous maintenance along with the intermittent redevelopment that results in

Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 16):
More than half of the life-cycle emissions from rail come not from the engines' exhausts, but infrastructure development, such as station building and track laying, and providing power to stations, lit parking lots and escalators

Of course it is easy and very convenient to some arguments to discount the origins of "more than half of the life-cycle emissions from rail" when, for example, comparing rail to commercial aviation where by far and away the largest prortion of life-cycle emissions come from actual fuel burn..

Certainly that is exactly what organisations like the British anti-commercial aviation group "Plane Stupid" do in their publicity. They too prefer to compare the emissions of a reasonably full aircraft with the emissions of a reasonably full plane. They too choose to ignore more than half of all the relevant carbon emissions associated with rail travel to make rail look like THE environmentally friendly way to travel. They too wrtongly argue that the infrastructure is there already, has been there for more than a hundred years and so can be ignored. They too say things like:

Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 16):
Parking lots? That's got nothing to do with rail

While this could be true in the USA, it is certainly not true here in the UK. Most of the government's efforts with rail here are to take traffic off our grossly overcrowded roads by reducing the number travelling by the most polluting form of transport - the car . Again my personal situation illustrates this.

Within 10 miles of where I live and on an entirely different major track into London, a totally new station was opened in April of this year on a green field (former farm) site. Whereas rail stations were traditionally built in the UK in city centres this is no longer the case. The so-called, modern "Parkway" stations are designed to attract the local medium and long distance commiuter to drive to the new station, park his or her car in the expansive car park that is both an integtral and very essential part of such developments and complete the major part of their commute on rail instead of in their car.

Of course it can be correctly argued that airport development also creates its own carbon footprint. However the last new metalled runway to be built in the south east of England excepting only the short runway at LCY was what is effectively the single runway at LGW. This runway that replaced the previous grass strip at that airport was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth just over 51 years ago on 9 June 1958. However developments such as T5 at LHR do, of course, have their own carbon footprint just as Parkway stations do.


User currently offlineR2rho From Germany, joined Feb 2007, 2619 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (5 years 2 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 4761 times:

Another factor that is often ignired and that I'd like to see considered in more studies is land use. Here, cars & trucks should come out pretty bad, as a pair of rail tracks can carry more pax & cargo on a much lower land use than a highway. But airports should be favored from this too. All you need is 3km of runway plus associated terminals & facilities at both ends. Furthermore, an airport can be used to travel anywhere with another airport, versus a track which is fixed between two points. So in terms of land use, aviation should come out as the winner of all transportation modes. I'd like to see a study on this some day.

In addition, airports generate noise & some pollution at both ends - which are the ones who benefit from the airports - but not for the cities in between. High speed rail generates noise (and quite a lot, I can tell you!) all along its track - including all the small towns that are bypassed and do not benefit from it.


User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9337 posts, RR: 29
Reply 22, posted (5 years 2 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 4759 times:



Quoting VV701 (Reply 20):
The railroad infrastructure in the USA may be more than 100 years old. This is certainly not the case in the UK.

That is certainly not the case. The big four keep their assets state of the art and the number of new miles build exceeds those in old Europe. That goes for freight but for passenger services they have interesting plans under development City light rail experiences a come baqck in the US with practically every major metro area now having projects established or in planning.

Quoting VV701 (Reply 20):
Within 10 miles of where I live and on an entirely different major track into London, a totally new station was opened in April of this year on a green field (former farm) site

The French started that and we should get more than the two locations we have in Germany. FRA is a dream with the intermodal facility at Frankfurt airport.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7152 posts, RR: 8
Reply 23, posted (5 years 2 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Without getting technical but looking at it from the political and economic standpoint, one of the major factors in all this recent "green" push is money, so with that in mind, which mode of transportation makes more money, which mode of transportation can afford to pay the additional tax, which mode of transportation will continue at almost normal levels after the levy of the additional tax?

Rail services were put in place in a lot of European countries to eliminate the use of cars as mass transportation, in most cases, they were done as govt. programs or with govt. aid with the cover of being for tha masses. If trains are taxed beyond the reach of the man in the street economic activity will slow down, folks will start looking for jobs within walking or bicycle range etc., definately not something any govt. wants to consider.

Air travel on the other hand is still regarded as a luxury, a lot do not like the LCC's which allow the local "riff raff to fly" as if it's their right rather than use the trains and buses, so better target.

As for the environment, look at a lot of factories spitting out emmissions all over the world, acid rain, etc. all of which have nothing to do with an airline travelling at 30,000 feet, but thats irrelevant. Our climate has to be fixed and we have to start somewhere, and making air travel more expensive has many other benefits, depending on your views. Less immigration, more control over immigration, more control over the movement of your people, less interaction between far flung countries, air travel once ahain becomes the domain of the rich and famous without ressurecting the concorde, and more.

Still early, no cofee yet so this may all just be junk.


User currently offlineRheinbote From Germany, joined May 2006, 1968 posts, RR: 52
Reply 24, posted (5 years 2 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4710 times:

In terms of CO2, an electric train operating within a nuclear power grid is king.

Shouldn't say that, but the most effiective way to reduce CO2 emissions is to travel less.


User currently offlineJoost From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 3168 posts, RR: 4
Reply 25, posted (5 years 2 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4684 times:



Quoting R2rho (Reply 19):
Airplanes pollute because they emit CO2. And electric trains don't pollute at all because "there's no smoke coming out of them" - even if their electricity comes from coal fired power plants in most countries. This study challenges this view, and is thus very welcome!

It is always important to make a difference between (local) pollution and global CO2 emissions. Referring to pollution, I don't directly think about CO2 (it doesn't make people ill) but rather on PM, NOx, HC and CO-exhaust: pollution that actually has a negative health impact on people. This mostly originates from (old) cars, buses, motorcycles and scooter, but also from aircraft.

This pollution has a very local effect; air quality can be very bad right next to a highway, but way better 10 kms further. This is completely different from CO2: with respect to CO2, it doesn't really matter where the exhausts takes place, and this is totally different for local pollution.

An electric train passing through a city doesn't generate nearly as much local pollution as an aircraft flying over your house. Also - certainly for modern electricity plants - health-effecting pollution is typically filtered easier at fixed plants than in (aeronautical) vehicles, simply because of weight and space issues.

I think it's very important to distinguish between health-affecting pollution and CO2-emissions.

Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 16):
There's also this from the English article:

More than half of the life-cycle emissions from rail come not from the engines' exhausts, but infrastructure development, such as station building and track laying, and providing power to stations, lit parking lots and escalators.

That's hardly an indictment of rail. Escalators? Parking lots? That's got nothing to do with rail, that's got to do with architecture and design. And in the United States, at least, many train stations have no escalators or parking lots.

My first though: how does a lit parking lot make any difference whether it's at a train station or at an airport?


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