Environmental Levers for High-Speed Rail Infrastructure: Life Cycle Assessment of the Tours-Bordeaux Railway in France

Among Europe’s large railway networks, France has the second longest with a total of 30,000 km, including 2,400 km of High Speed Rail (HSR) in 2018. This article provides a multicriteria assessment of environmental impacts of High Speed Rail infrastructure in France in order to identify drivers and good practices for environmental performance. It describes a process-based Life Cycle Assessment conducted on the new Tours-Bordeaux HSR infrastructure, which has been running since July 2017. It develops component lifespan and end-of-life scenarios, as well as Life Cycle Inventories, using construction data from the concessionaire, the literature, and the EcoInvent database. A set of 13 midpoint indicators from CML, EDIP, and CED characterization methods is selected to capture the diversity of the environmental damage: climate change, consumption of primary energy and non-renewable resources, human toxicity and ecotoxicities, eutrophication, acidification, radioactive and bulk wastes, as well as stratospheric ozone depletion and summer smog. Depending on the indicator, it globally shows major contributions to environmental impact from rails (10-71%), roadbed (3-48%), as well as the civil engineering structures (4-28%). More limited impact is noted from ballast (1-22%), building machines (0-17%), sleepers (4-11%), and catenaries (2-12%). The two last components, chairs and fasteners, have almost negligible impact (respectively max. 1% and 3% of total contributions). Direct transportation can contribute up to 18% of total impact. Suggestions are provided for life cycle good practices and additional research.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AR010 Standing Committee on Intercity Passenger Rail.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • de Bortoli, Anne
    • Bouhaya, Lina
    • Féraille, Adélaïde
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 7p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697335
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-05115
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:24AM