Air Pollution Impact of Railroad Electrification

by Hal B.H. Cooper, Jr., Asst. Prof.; Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas,
Aaron T.B. Lam, Research Asst.; Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Washington, Seattle, Wash.,
Hoy A. Richards, Research Assoc.; Texas A & M Univ., College Station, Texas,

Serial Information: Journal of the Environmental Engineering Division, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 4, Pg. 723-736

Document Type: Journal Paper


The potential air pollutant emission reductions and energy savings were evaluated for freight and passenger traffic diversion from existing modes to electrified railroad in the Houston-Dallas intercity corridor. Energy savings of 5%-10% could be realized by conversion from diesel to electric railroad operation. Energy savings of 55% could occur by conversion from automobiles to electric railroads, and up to 75% by conversion from diesel trucks to electric railroads for equivalent freight and passenger movements. Domestic coal and uranium could be used as energy sources. Conversion to electrified railroad would reduce overall emissions by 86% as compared to diesel trucks for freight, and up to 96.5% as compared to automobiles for passengers. Reductions of over 90% could occur in hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions, and over 50% for nitrogen oxides emissions. High efficiency sulfur oxides controls were necessary when burning coal to reduce its emissions to levels equivalents to other modes.

Subject Headings: Air pollution | Emissions | Electric power | Freight transportation | Energy efficiency | Passengers | Petroleum | Rail transportation

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