A Study on the Life-cycle Assessment for Evaluating Carbon Impact from Construction of Rail Infrastructure



A Study on the Life-cycle Assessment for Evaluating Carbon Impact from Construction of Rail Infrastructure

Authors

Y Morita, Ki Shimizu, Institution for Transport Policy Studies; T Yamasaki, Japan Railway Construction; H Kato, N Shibahara, Nagoya University, JP

Description

This study is to establish a methodology to evaluate the environmental impact through the whole life cycle of a railway as a preliminary survey of a railway project, with the application of the Life Cycle Assessment. Case studies are also included.

Abstract

As environmental awareness has been expanding on a global scale, the role of railways has drawn attention as a viable environmentally-friendly transportation system. However, until now rail transport has been generally discussed only in terms of its operating stage. As well, such discussions have been based primarily on the average value of greenhouse gas emitted during the operation of the transportation mode in a country.

For a more precise study of emission control in the development of new railways, this average value is not applicable because the amount of emission varies by conditions such as load factor, the length of the line haul, etc. It is also important to note that not only emission from operation but also from provision of infrastructure and rolling stock should be factored into the amount of emission. Furthermore, the decrease of passengers of other competing transportation modes may contributes to total emission reduction and this too should be taken into account.

This study aims to establish a methodology to evaluate the environmental impact through the whole life cycle of a railway as a preliminary survey of a railway project. The methodology contains how to evaluate the total environmental load of railway project which emits CO2 from the construction through disposal, with the application of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It also takes into consideration the Extended Life Cycle Environmental Load (ELCEL), which includes the effects of the environmental load reduction by decreasing alternatives to railway lines such as automobile traffic.

Some case studies are conducted in this study. The results of the studies vary depending upon the characteristics of the projects. In some cases rail projects are not always effective for emission reduction. However the results show that this method is available for a true environmental evaluation of new railway projects in the planning phase.

Though those case studies are conducted only from the view of measuring emission reduction by railway project, this study also proposes the practical application of this method to design the project such as "which transportation mode is most suitable for emission reduction" or "which route or structure is most suitable for emission reduction". We consider that this method is quite valuable for the evaluation of rail projects in the developing countries where rail transit is expected to develop significantly.

Publisher

Association for European Transport