Vaclav Smil is a world-renowned Canadian scientist who, according to Foreign Policy magazine, is one of the 100 most influential thinkers on the planet. He is the author of 30 monographs and 400 articles. The sphere of his scientific interests is unusually wide - environmental protection, energy, demography, food, economics, politics, history.
In his article “High Speed Trains Are Energy Efficient (and Fast), ” published on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) website, Smil shared his thoughts on the benefits of modern high speed electric trains.
According to his calculations, a passenger car needs 2 megajoules (MJ) of energy to transport one passenger in an urban environment over a distance of 1 km. With two passengers, this value is halved, which is comparable to a half-empty bus. Jet airliners also show high efficiency - at full load, a little less than 1.5 MJ / pkm (passenger kilometer). However, they are inferior to electric trains, (in particular, metro trains), which, when fully loaded, require only 0.1 MJ / pkm.
However, in terms of energy efficiency, according to Smil, intercity high-speed electric trains are out of competition, which transport over distances from 150 to 600 km. So, even nowadays outdated models of Japanese passenger express trains "Shinkansen" have an energy intensity of 0.35 MJ / pkm. Their more modern versions - the French TGV and the German ICE - have only 0.2 MJ / pcm, which is an order of magnitude less than the aircraft.