Full article: Is high-speed rail a sustainable mobility option? A life-cycle assessment of the Basque Y project in Spain.

This is an article published in Environmental Impact Assessment Review magazine, developed by Andoni Kortazar and Gorka Bueno, members of our Ekopol research group, together with David Hoyos, a regular collaborator.

A life cycle analysis (LCA) is carried out to assess the environmental performance of the Basque Y high-speed railway connection between Madrid and the Basque Autonomous Community throughout its useful life. This high-speed mixed freight and passenger line has been presented by the authorities as a fundamental step towards a more sustainable mobility.

However, the results show that this new corridor is not justified in terms of reducing emissions and energy consumption, mainly due to its low transport density, as well as having a negligible impact on the current low rail freight traffic in Spain.

It is therefore encouraged to reconsider the expansion of its AVE network if rail’s modal share is to be increased and EU emission targets are to be met. From a political point of view, many inconsistencies have been detected in the information on freight demand projections, which casts serious doubts on the decision-making process behind trans-European transport projects.