Comparative Analysis of the No-Build Alternative for High-Speed Rail Projects

Focus Area

NEPA Process


Environmental Process




Under $99k



Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes:  Note recommended at present time by 2009 Environmental Process Subcommittee. 

Problem Statement

Several high-speed rail projects in the U.S. were proposed, analyzed, assessed, but were not built, so in effect, the “No-Build Alternative” was selected. There is a need for a comparative analysis of the key factors used for these projects to define the need for an intercity travel alternative and to characterize the baseline or “No-Build Alternative.”
The objective of the research would be to create a systematic framework for completing a  comparative analysis of the No-Build Alternative for three previously proposed high-speed rail projects in the U.S. (Texas, Florida, and California), addressing the following:
• What factors were used to define the need for a high-speed rail alternative for intercity travel, such as congestion relief, travel time savings, mobility improvements, safety, air quality, and energy savings.
• How the baseline is defined for existing conditions and future years for the No- Build Alternative.
• How the actual data for each of the No-Build Alternative factors compares with what was estimated at the time that the high speed rail was proposed.
The research report should summarize the results of the comparative analysis resulting from systematic data collection and comparison of factors used (1) to define the need for high-speed rail in three states and (2) to document the actual resulting “No-Build” environmental factors to assess if the need was understated or overstated.

Suggested By

AR020, Passenger Rail Equipment and Systems Integration Committee, as specified in the TRB Research Needs Database, 2009. (Idea submitted 7/2007)