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Factors affecting commuter rail energy efficiency.
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    The 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.

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