China has built the world’s longest network of High Speed Rail (HSR) systems in less than 5 years. However, there are very limited researches on the life cycle environmental impacts of China’s HSR systems, which could be significant due to dependence on coal-fired power and material and energy intensive infrastructure. Therefore, China’s life cycle assessment (LCA) software eBalance and Chinese Core Life Cycle Database are utilized to conduct LCA on China's HSR systems between Beijing and Shanghai. Several scenarios about infrastructure composition, electricity mix, etc., are developed to help identify major drivers of the environmental impacts. China's HSR systems are also compared against other systems and transportation modes to understand their environmental performance. Several suggestions are proposed to reduce the life cycle impacts of China's HSR systems based on the results. This research has several limitations mainly due to limited availability of data, but can serve as a starting point to understand the comprehensive environmental benefits and impacts of China's HSR systems.
Committee: Prof. Ming Xu and Prof. Greg Keoleian