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Title:The energy futures of long-distance passenger rail in the United States
Author(s):Minn, Michael
Director of Research:Cidell, Julie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cidell, Julie
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Deal, Brian; Hannon, Bruce; Wilson, David
Department / Program:Geography & Geographic InfoSci
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Passenger Railroad
Energy Intensity
Energy Efficiency
Actor-Network Theory
Systems Dynamics
Abstract:This research interrogates potential futures for long-distance intercity rail transportation in the United States in the context of possible energy resource constraints. Three epistemically-distinctive analytical frameworks are used in order to provide a more rigorous and synthetic perspective than would be possible with the assumption of passenger rail as an ontological unity. The first chapter uses Actor-Network Theory to analyze the evolution of long-distance passenger rail in the United States as a sociotechnical network. The second chapter is a critical examination of the concept of energy intensty and the use of rail's purported energy intensity advantage over other transport modes as a basis for projecting increased long-distance passenger rail travel. The final chapter presents a systems dynamics simulation of potential futures for intercity passenger rail in the United States. The volume and spatial dispersion of future long-distance locomobility will likely be contingent on the nature of the sociotechnical transition to renewability. Politically and materially, a persistence of automobility and aeromobility would likely leave little demand for locomobility outside of recreational uses and local/regional systems that facilitate capitalist exploitation of concentrated urban spaces. Conversely, any severe material and energetic constraints that significantly reduce the viability of automobility and aeromobility would also likely leave the US incapable of operating and maintaining (much less expanding) a robust long-distance passenger rail system as a decline in mass capitalist industrialization takes with it the iconic transportation mode associated with modernity's advent.
Issue Date:2015-01-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 by Michael Minn
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-01-21
Date Deposited:2014-12

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