High-Speed Trains Good For Quality Of Life, Economy, Air, Climate, Society…

If you thought this site was just about cars, I wouldn’t blame you — that’s what we spend most of our time on — but we are into all types of electric vehicles, and that certainly includes high-speed trains! The good news of the day (which should really be obvious to anyone who thinks about it) is that high-speed rail is good for almost everything.

Planned high-speed rail system in California
Planned high-speed rail system in California

From the UCLA newsroom:

Bullet trains fuel real-estate booms, improve quality of life and create other unintended consequences by sharply reducing commute times from smaller cities to large megacities, economists from UCLA and China’s Tsinghua University observed in a new study in China. A similar dynamic, they said, could play out as California builds its own high-speed rail system.

Because high-speed rail effectively brings cities closer together by reducing travel times, it allows people to enjoy many of the benefits of big cities while living in “second-tier” cities far from the pollution and congestion. By making second-tier cities attractive to those who would otherwise flock to global hubs, bullet trains could act as a safety valve for crowded megacities in the developing world and ease the effects of overpopulation, the study authors report.

In places like California where high-speed rail is planned, proposed stations could create booms for second-tier cities, like Palmdale and Bakersfield near Los Angeles, the authors said. This would improve quality of life by easing congestion in the major cities while giving more isolated cities greater access to metropolitan hubs. As the authors observed in China, lower housing costs initially attract new residents, creating a housing boom that will benefit the second-tier cities.

From the paper abstract, which was just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

“The bullet train is regarded as one of the most significant technological breakthroughs in passenger transportation developed in the second half of the 20th century. Starting in 2007, China has introduced several new bullet trains that connect megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou with nearby cities. Through facilitating market integration, bullet trains will stimulate the development of second- and third-tier cities. By offering households and firms a larger menu of location alternatives, bullet trains help to protect the quality of life of the growing urban population. We document that this transport innovation is associated with rising real estate prices in the nearby secondary cities.”

Another day, another reason to love high-speed rail.

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