The BayRail Alliance is hosting a talk this Thursday on Carbon Neutral Rail Service in Mountain View. David Dearborn is a San José native who has worked out a tentative plan to power Caltrain entirely by solar power. Presumably the technology and practice of the system can be applied to high speed rail as well - perhaps mixed with wind power, which the California High Speed Rail Authority has been promoting in its advertisements. Already there are plans to include some form of "hybrid" technology by which the HSR trains would restore power to the grid when braking, but to maximize the environmental and climate benefits of HSR it would be ideal to have the system entirely powered by renewables.
I won't be able to attend the meeting, but I recommend it and the BayRail Alliance to you all; hopefully someone can go and report back to us. Also, as you may have noticed, I'm not an expert on the engineering and tech aspects of HSR - but feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss such things.
UPDATE In the comments another Robert points out that the CHSRA is in fact studying ways to make the system carbon neutral:
The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board yesterday authorized a study to determine the feasibility of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions for the power needs of the 700-mile electric high-speed train system. The study, timed to be completed by June of this year, will focus on costs, potential location of facilities and partnerships with utilities for on-site production of clean energy sources.
"The proposed route of the system intersects with many of the state's best location for wind, solar and geothermal facilities," said Quentin Kopp, chairman of the Authority. "High-speed trains will help California meet the goals set out by the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; using new clean energy technologies to power the system will be an added bonus and establish California as a leader in reducing global warming while developing renewable energy sources."