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New fast rail connections between the west and the north of the Netherlands: effects on emissions and noise nuisance

Nieuwe snelle treinverbindingen tussen de Randstad en Noord Nederland: effecten op emissies en geluidhinder


The Dutch government wants to know if it a good idea to build a new fast railway between Schiphol Airport, via Amsterdam to the North of the Netherlands: the 'Zuiderzeelijn'. The so called 'Projectorganisatie Zuiderzeelijn' was asked to manage researches that are needed to answer this question and the integration of these researches in a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). At the request of the Projectorganisatie Zuiderzeelijn the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) investigated emissions impacts of six alternatives for a fast railway connection between Schiphol and the North of the Netherlands. Besides, the RIVM evaluated research on noise impacts of these alternatives. In this research we used transport volumes (passenger kilometres per mode) of a CBA study done by the NEI. Emissions per seat kilometre and occupancy rates were calculated by the RIVM. Calculations show that energy use per seat kilometre of maglev trains is approximately three times that of conventional trains. Assuming most likely estimates for energy use per seat kilometre and occupancy rates, all variants will lead to an increase in emissions of CO2, NOx and SO2. Expressed as a percentage of total transport related emissions in the Netherlands, the increase is less than 0.5%. The increase is biggest for the variants with the maglev trains. Indirect emissions due to the construction of the rail lines can be as high as direct emissions due to using trains. All alternatives result in an increase in noise impacts. Several improvements are suggested to improve the way in which CBA's, such as the CBA for the Zuiderzeelijn, deal with environmental aspects of rail options. Firstly, a reliable estimate of effects of the variants requires more independently carried out research into energy use (and related emissions), and noise emissions of the maglev trains. Secondly, it is advised that future CBA's also include energy use and emissions related to the construction of infrastructure. Finally more research into the impact of (rail) infrastructure on the landscape, nature, and barrier effects is needed.

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