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The Return of Rail

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by tonybelding, Feb 14, 2008.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Check it. . .

    As Public Highways Choke, Railroads Enjoy a Renaissance | Autopia from Wired.com

    I had no idea this was happening. I thought something like it ought to happen, I wanted to see it happen, but I always sort of cynically assumed that businesses were too short-sighted and set in their ways to ever put their goods on trains.

    Moving freight on the rails saves fuel, saves congestion and wear-and-tear on the highways, and eventually the railways also can be electrified. It's expensive -- electrifying a railway costs about as much as laying the tracks in the first place -- but it's already been widely done in Europe, so we know it can work.
     
  2. Jeff

    Jeff Member

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    Great article Tony. I think this is where we should be going. All those semi's that congest our highways will be headed toward the nearest off ramp. At this point any reduction is a good one. Semi's also account for a large proportion of emissions on highways. Just look at the black smoke pour out from those things. We should be investing in rail but not just any rail network. Linear AC induction motors can propel magnetic levitation trains through the countrysides. They are extremely costly at this point. But I personally think this is one technology that will allow trains to truly shine. The crafts ability to hover inches from an induction rail will increase reliability tenfold. Once perfected, the benefits will be obvious and difficult to ignore. Mag Lev trains commonly travel in excess of 300 mph. I read an article awhile back stating the velocity is expected to continue climbing and some scientists claim they will eventually achieve 900 mph or more due to the flexibility that inherently comes from the ability to hover.
     
  3. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    A typical train can haul something like 1 ton of cargo 400 miles on a single gallon of diesel. They sacrifice a lot of versatility, but the efficiency of rail is phenomenal.

    As fuel costs become an increasingly large component of transport expense, trains are going to continue to see growth in popularity.
     
  4. flabby

    flabby Member

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    Hey Kardax, just curious where you got your numbers from?
     
  5. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    I can't remember, but I think they were put out by a railroad company.

    Keep in mind that a train is hauling thousands of tons. It's going to be burning fuel at an astonishing rate; but it's getting a lot done while doing it :)

    It's a very obvious case where economies of scale plus the inherent efficiency of a smooth track with no stopping and a sustained speed pay off in a dramatic way.

    -Ryan / Kardax
     
  6. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    There's a commercial running right now that shows a beautiful countryside then follows a silver car up a ramp and onto a train. They end with a line something like- 1 ton of cargo moved for XXX miles on X gallons.
     
  7. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to get excited about the beauty of electric rail when one thinks about all the old Electric trolley systems that used to exist but were forced out or destroyed by corrupt politicians in conjunction with evil business practices by GM (under the name "National City Lines"

    The electric systems had 16 billion passengers by the mid 20's. The NCL would systematically buy up rail lines let them fall into decay and then convert them to unprofitable bus lines then finally make the bus lines disappear altogether leaving only highly profitable gas-guzzling automobiles.

    It's all in Edwin Black's "Internal Combustion" chapter 10
     
  8. BBHighway

    BBHighway Member

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    One Ton, 480 MIles, One Gallon of Fuel

    I've seen that commercial from the railrroads. While the railroads are very efficient, and much better than trucks, I think they are using some clever sleight-of-hand calculations to make them seem even more so.

    The railroads don't explain how they come up with those numbers, but I think they do it by taking an existing train, carrying thousands of tons of cargo, that is already going 480 miles, and add one ton to it.

    If you drive your car 480 miles, and measure how much fuel it uses, then repeat the trip but add one extra pound to you car, you'll find that your car can carry one pound of cargo 480 miles on about a teaspoon of fuel. Cars are great! Or so you could make it seem.

    Despite the distorted ads, I'm very much pro-rail.They are much more efficient than trucks. In Europe, they have a many long haul trains that run on overhead electric power. This process is incredibly efficient, since the engines don't have to carry heavy diesel generators of fuel tanks. I'm not sure why it's not as popular in the US.

    In Vancouver, they have a bus-trolley system. They have buses that are powered by an overhead electric system, like trolleys. The big advantage is that they don't need tracks like a traditional trolley. Otherwise, they work pretty much the same way. I don't see why more cities can't go with a similar system. I probably takes some work to set up the overhead wires, but can't be that bad.
     
  9. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    It seems that San Francisco has that as well.
    My own experience says that trams or light rail is usually better than trolley-busses for one thing, comfort. Even though from an enviromental viewpoint not having to lay tracks or use heavy trams does save energy. But then again trams has a very smooth ride and usually is very quiet. Of course I take a tram line to work that runs about 18 times an hour so I'm a bit spoiled :)

    Cobos
     
  10. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Cost. It's costs about as much, per mile, to electrify a track as it did to lay the track in the first place. And the USA has a lot of miles of track.

    As oil prices keep climbing, at some point it will presumably make sense to spend the money and electrify the rail systems even in the USA.
     
  11. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    Tony: Yes as oil and diesel prices rises it should make more and more sense. And even though it sounds very counterintuitive electrifying track isn't an all or nothing proposition. In Norway for instance all the track is electrified except the northernmost route. I'm pretty sure that was done simply for cost reasons, but it seems to work out pretty well. For slower moving passenger trains and freight trains diesel-electric works pretty well.

    Cobos
     
  12. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Guys, It's always made sense. It made sense when they built the first EV trollys in the 1880's and they made sense all the way to the time they started ripping them out in the 30's and 40's.

    They still make sense.

    Whoever has the (liquid) gold makes the rules.
     
  13. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    #14 doug, Jun 24, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    These vids are about a year old, but were new to me.
     
  14. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    Doug:
    What's that vote in 2008 they are talking about ? The presidential election?

    Cobos
     
  15. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    With every election, we also have state and local issues to vote on. The Quest video mentions a bond measure to fund the project. In California, bonds (large long term loans to the government) have to be approved by the voters. At the time the video was made that bond measure was scheduled to appear on the ballot in 2008. That means, that along with voting for president, at the same time we (in CA) would vote on this High Speed Rail bond measure, as well as a bunch of other stuff (local government positions, judges, etc...probably a state constitutional amendment).

    At this point it's unclear to me whether this particular measure will be on the ballot this time around. California High-Speed Rail - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Hope that answers your question and I didn't sound too pedantic. I'm assuming you don't know how our voting system works.
     
  16. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    Thank you, my knowledge on details in your voting system is sketchy at best :)

    Regardles this sounds like an excellent time to start working on this project for California...but I want Norway with it's 4 million people to get a extensive high speed rail network and the state has financed several reports. The most expensive is in the $100 billion range but we'll see what we end up with.

    Cobos
     
  17. mt2

    mt2 Member

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    Here's a thought; The California High Speed Rail will run along existing thoroughfares and require 25,000 volts for the entire distance. What if charging stations for EVs and PHEVs were put along the highways every 100 miles or so? Property at the charging stations could be leased to restaurants, convenience stores, and (yes) gas stations. Proceeds from leases and EV / PHEV charging could help subsidize the rail system while encouraging alternative transportation.
     
  18. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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  19. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    Keep in mind that the most expensive project isn't very likely to be funded, and Norwegians are actually experts at building tunnels. Considering how many we got we bloody well should be :)

    Just to get it in scale, $100 billion is about half our states annual budgeted expenses. So this will increase our yearly expenditures significantly. At the same time this is about the 1/4 or 1/5 of the cash we got in our collective matrass (more as an investment fund, but you get the point).

    Cobos
     

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