Because high speed trains generally run on electric power, they use fewer fossil fuels than cars, conventional trains, or airplanes. By introducing a transportation system that is generally energy efficient (even if fossil fuels are necessary to produce the electricity powering the trains, the demand for oil and coal is still substantially lower than it would be with trains powered by fossil fuels), China may see decreases in local pollution and carbon emmisions, as well as a lower dependence on foreign oil. A trip from Beijing to London by high speed train is far more energy efficient than a flight that covers the same distance.
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