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Ecological effects of Eurometro

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Complete with results
Project Acronym
F6 (NRP 41)
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs. The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy. Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:

  • A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
  • B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
  • C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
  • D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
  • E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts
  • F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
  • M Materials
  • S Synthesis Projects

This research report concerns an integrated, sustainable transport policy that has been marginally discussed so far – High Speed Transport (HST). It seeks to provide a basis for decisions on whether new and innovative technologies could provide a sensible technical alternative to long distance traffic. Thus taking into account the rapidly growing air traffic, and the energetic and ecologic perspectives. Furthermore, the research report wants to indentify the most important factors influencing the energy consumption and the resources, and the relevant emissions into the environment.


The idea of making an updated ecological assessment was abandoned with the NFP41 programme management's agreement, due to limited time and human resources. In addition, as far as the currently available data was concerned, no significant consolidation of results compared to the ecological assessments presented by MINGOT ET AL. [1997] and LEUENBERGER ET AL. [1998] could be expected. Instead, updated results based on the latest basic data of the energy consumption and the greenhouse effect for the previously researched tracks Rome-Frankfurt were recalculated. The calculations were performed using two demand variants at the upper and lower end of the demand interval to be expected from previous and new examinations.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss National Science Foundation SNF
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


In the future, the rank of the issues energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions and their associated impact on climatic change caused by high-speed transport systems will increase. Therefore the optimisation of energy consumption and the corresponding power generation will be of growing importance. The consumption of primary energy and the global warming potential of a Eurometro system, i.e. a high-speed transport system in a partial vacuum with magnetic driving forces, is expected to be significantly lower per passenger kilometre than with other transport systems operating in the distance range of about 300 to 1000 kilometres (200 to 600 miles). As a Eurometro system would be operated mainly with electric power, the method or the technology used for generating electricity is a major impact factor regarding the climatic and environmental efficiency. Other relevant issues are energy demand, potential impact on the climate and the general burden on the environment caused by tunnel construction and other infrastructure. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by the construction of infrastructure, for example, can reach a similar scale as those for the system's exploitation, assuming an operational life cycle of 100 years. The specific proportion of grey energy and of indirect burdens on the environment per passenger kilometre, depends strongly on the passenger demand and its development over the system's intended life cycle. Important factors in the development of the demand of HST-systems are travel fares and speed as well as integration into the existing network. Economic and financial aspects of constructing and operating a Eurometro system also influence the sustainability of a high-speed system very strongly. The most influential factors for energy and environmental assessment:

  • Demand, network and development variants,
  • Speed,
  • Tunnel diameter,
  • Generation of operating power,
  • Ground-level and underground tracks,
  • Weight of vehicles,
  • Partial vacuum,
  • Length of rolling stock,
  • Operating infrastructure,
  • Geology,
  • Use of excavation material,
  • Tunnel cladding.

Policy implications

The issues of construction technology and the type of power generation and supply for the construction process should be investigated more extensively in future research studies. Demand forecasts need to take into account not only general transport growth rates, but also other important factors such as migration effects from other high-speed transport systems and from slower transport systems (road, traditional rail transport), induced new traffic volumes, and potential spatial effects. Other accompanying control measures, besides internalising external costs within the field of transport, have to be developed and evaluated. This is necessary in order to achieve the desired migration to a more energy-efficient and environment-friendly transport system as well as to limit induced new travel to an ecologically justifiable level. Economic and financial aspects have to be the focus of future research work as well, because of their influence on the sustainability of Eurometro.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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