Are High-Speed Railways Good for the Environment?

Posted by chdot on August 18, 2006

A good question – and one that might have occurred to you as you contemplate the various options of a new rail link to an ever expanding Edinburgh Airport, and proposals for new high speed rail routes to both Glasgow and London.

Some of the answers may emerge at the TRANSform Scotland seminar in three weeks.

Wednesday 6th September, 5.45pm for 6pm start (finish 7.30pm) City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh

Speaker David Spaven is a well know sustainable transport expert with a professional interest in rail.

“Rail transport has long been regarded as environmentally superior to air and road transport, but a growing body of opinion is questioning whether the modal switch benefits can justify the carbon dioxide generated by constructing, operating and maintaining massive new rail infrastructure. A new route will be very expensive to construct, and the operator will need to generate much additional new travel (beyond modal switch of Anglo-Scottish air passengers) to utilise the major new capacity created, potentially increasing total carbon emissions and other environmental impacts.

“A more ‘fit for purpose’ approach to the Anglo-Scottish market might give priority to upgrading the existing East Coast Main Line and West Coast Main Line routes for faster passenger services, while diverting freight trains to enhanced cross-country routes geared up for heavy loads, tall containers and ‘piggyback’ lorry trailers.”

As long as they don’t forget to add plenty of room for bikes on any new trains!


The seminar is free but places are limited and must be booked in advance. TRANSform Scotland member groups and supporters will be given priority for places.

To book, either e-mail or leave a message for Siobhan Reardon on 0131 476 4014.

One Response to “Are High-Speed Railways Good for the Environment?”

  1. […] However the previous evening (ironically in the City Chambers), respected rail expert and campaigner David Spaven had presented a strong argument (Are High-Speed Railways Good for the Environment?) against such a massive infrastructure project which would not only involve a lot of CO2 during construction, but also that energy use (and CO2) increase significantly with speed. […]

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