Factors Affecting Commuter Rail Energy Efficiency

UIUC Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2013-UIUC-R12
Project TitleFactors Affecting Commuter Rail Energy Efficiency
UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Project ManagerTyler Dick
Principal InvestigatorTyler Dick
PI Contact Information
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)
Total Project Cost$
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT12-G-UTC18 (Grant 1)
Start Date2014-08-01
End Date2015-05-31
Brief Description of Research ProjectThe objective of this study is to develop a planning‐level model of commuter rail energy efficiency. The
environmental benefits of commuter rail are often cited as one of the key benefits and motivators for its rapid
development as a public transportation mode in recent decades. Reductions in energy consumption and
greenhouse gas emissions facilitated by commuters switching from automobiles to commuter rail are often
translated into an economic benefit. During initial planning studies, this benefit is incorporated into
calculations used to justify government agency investment in the rail mode. However, the calculation of this
benefit for proposed commuter rail systems is difficult and inexact, and research has shown that the efficiency
of existing commuter rail systems can vary widely. Planners must often rely on broad industry averages that
may not be representative of the actual performance and benefits of the future commuter rail operation.
Thus the level of public investment may not match actual benefits and some projects that are infeasible may
proceed based on optimistic projections. To provide planners and policy makers with better data to support
more informed decisions, this project will develop a planning‐level model to estimate commuter rail energy
efficiency. The model will be developed by comparing reported energy efficiency of commuter rail systems to
different infrastructure, equipment and operating characteristics of each system. Statistical analysis will be
used to determine trends and relationships between efficiency and system characteristics. The final
deliverable will be a simple statistical model that will allow planners to provide more realistic estimates of
future commuter rail energy efficiency based on a few key system parameters.
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)
Web Links
Project Website
Final ReportNURail2013-UIUC-R12_Final_Report-2016-02-18-TD1.pdf