Impact of High-Speed Rail on Road Traffic and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

81 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2021 Last revised: 14 Oct 2021

See all articles by Yatang Lin

Yatang Lin

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

Yu Qin

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Real Estate

Jing Wu

Tsinghua University - Hang Lung Center for Real Estate; Tsinghua University - Department of Construction Management

Mandi Xu

Tsinghua University - Hang Lung Center for Real Estate

Date Written: March 27, 2021

Abstract

Carbon emission reduction in the transportation sector is essential in the global mitigation effort and a large-scale public transport system has the potential to be an effective instrument. High speed rail (HSR) is one such example, yet it is unclear how much reduction in road traffic results from new rail routes. Using the difference-in-differences (DID) method, we show that new HSR routes in China leads to a 20.5 log-point reduction in the number of passenger vehicles and a 15.7 log-point reduction in freight vehicles running on parallel highways. These reductions were not seen on ordinary national roads. These effects translate into an annual reduction of 14.76 million tons of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or 1.75% of GHG emissions in China’s transport sector. This mitigation effect mainly comes from the substitution of highway goods transport with the conventional railway, instead of the direct replacement of highway passenger transport with HSR. The environmental benefit of HSR in China has not been fully realized because of the thermal-dominated electricity supply. Our further projections suggest that in greener electricity conditions, the HSR in China can significantly contribute more to the reduction in GHG emissions from the transport sector.

Keywords: High-speed rail, road traffic, GHG emissions

JEL Classification: Q540, R410

Suggested Citation

Lin, Yatang and Qin, Yu and Wu, Jing and Xu, Mandi, Impact of High-Speed Rail on Road Traffic and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (March 27, 2021). HKUST Business School Research Paper No. 2021-019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3813628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3813628

Yatang Lin

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) ( email )

Clearwater Bay
Kowloon, 999999
Hong Kong

Yu Qin (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Real Estate ( email )

4 Architecture Drive
Singapore 117566
Singapore

Jing Wu

Tsinghua University - Hang Lung Center for Real Estate ( email )

HeShanHeng Building
Beijing, 100084
China

HOME PAGE: http://thuwujing.net

Tsinghua University - Department of Construction Management ( email )

Heshanheng Building
Tsinghua University
Beijing, 100084
China

HOME PAGE: http://thuwujing.net

Mandi Xu

Tsinghua University - Hang Lung Center for Real Estate ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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