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Directory:Electric Freight Rail

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Eight Times More Efficient than Heavy Trucks


Directory of techologies and resources relating to Electric Rail.


Electrifying railroads and transferring half of the ton-miles of trucks to rail could save 6.3% of US oil consumption. Electric railroads, well-proven in other countries, are cheaper to operate and can carry more freight because they accelerate and brake faster, can generate electricity while braking, and have no delays for refueling. Aside from high-speed electric rail lines from Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg and Boston-to-D.C., the US has a long way to travel in catching up to many, more mobile countries within Europe and Asia.

Contents

Overviews

Electrifying railroads and transferring half of the ton-miles of trucks to rail would save around 6.3% of US oil consumption. Japanese and most European railroads are already electrified. The Russians finished electrifying the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from Moscow to the Pacific, in 2002 and electrified to the Arctic Ocean at Murmansk in 2005. There are no technical limitations. Electric railroads are cheaper to operate and can carry more freight due to their faster acceleration and braking capabilities, ability to generate electricity and save energy while braking, and their elimination of delays in not having a need to refuel.

Railroads are 8 times more energy-efficient than heavy trucks. The US used 19.8 million barrels/day in 2002 with two-thirds for transportation. In 2007 US oil consumption totaled to around 20.7 million barrels/day. Railroads carried 27.8% of the ton-miles with 220,000 b/day whilst trucks carried 32.1% of the ton-miles with 2,070,000 b/day (2002 data). Daniel Bowers

"France has had an aggressive tram (Light Rail) building program for over fifteen years, with only five French towns of population 100,000 or more without a tram or plans for one. Recently, France has stepped up the pace with plans for 1,500 km of new tram lines (22 billion euros) in the next decade.

France has been building their famous TGV lines for over 30 years, one line at a time. Now that the original Paris-centric system is 100 km from completion, a new network of additions, bypassing Paris, have been announced and for the first time three different TGV lines are simultaneously under construction." Multiple Birds – One Silver BB: A synergistic set of solutions to multiple issues focused on Electrified Railroads

Technologies

  • Marrying Stranded Wind and Freight Rail Electrification - For reliable electrification from wind, you need wind resource regions wide enough apart where energy is in constant supply, and a means to store power. Modular pumped storage hydro (that is, a water holding tank on both bottom and top, so it primarily requires a convenient 30m+ elevation to function) is up to the storage task, and the US wind resource is far in excess of the total energy required to electrify all of our trunk rail ... (Docudharma; Jan.27, 2008)
  • Rail Motor - LaunchPoint Technologies proposes the “Rail Motor" (patent pending). This is a new type of linear electric motor that could propel standard rail vehicles, including locomotives and freight cars, with no modification to the vehicles. The motor would be installed in the track, would require no mechanical connection to the vehicles, and would be electronically controlled by the train engineer via a wireless radio connection. This is likely to be more expensive and less efficient than conventional electrification, as it requires a motor in each segment of track, rather than just having a motor in the locomotive.
  • Electrification 101 - 5 steps to electrification of rail. Twenty BTUs of diesel fuel for one BTU of electricity is the energy trade by shifting from heavy trucks to electrified railroads. Replacing 2 million barrels/day of heavy truck diesel fuel will take just 1.4% of US electricity. ((Light Rail Now!; Oct, 2006)
  • 3rd Rail System - Britain is the only country in the world with extensive third rail electrification of main railways. It may be cheap, but the problem is lack of power and speed, offering little advantage over diesel trains. However, electrification has caught on for underground railway systems, as diesels cannot run in closed tunnels without causing massive health problems, and because tunnels generally small, leaving little room for overhead lines.
  • Electric Locomotive - An electric locomotive is a locomotive powered by electricity from an external source. Sources include overhead lines, third rail or an on-board electricity storage device such as a battery or a flywheel system. Electrically-propelled locomotives with on-board fueled prime movers, such as diesel engines or gas turbines, are not classed as electric locomotives, but as hybrid, as the electric generator/motor combination is only considered to be the power transmission system.

Videos


(4.11 minutes)Electric Railway

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(3.32 minutes)Volk's Electric Railway, Brighton

  • This beach railway was started in 1883, and now runs between the Pier and the Marina. (YouTube; July 23, 2008)

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Resources

In the News

  • Multiple Birds – One Silver BB: A synergistic set of solutions to multiple issues focused on Electrified Railroads - The consensus on "The Oil Drum" is that there is no single “Silver Bullet? to deal with our related energy, oil and climate change problems; rather a series of “Silver BBs? will be needed. This essay is about a cost effective, medium term, multi-faceted, synergistic Silver BB, arguably our best one. Electrifying our freight rail system will provide an oil-free transportation alternative in an oil emergency, whether acute or chronic. Regardless of oil prices or availability, electric rail would serve as the backbone of essential petrol-free, long-distance transportation. With peak oil arriving, the US appears to be moving rapidly towards a chronic oil affordability emergency. (The Oil Drum; July 15, 2008)
  • Pennsylvania Train Is Electrified, But Congress Stalls - Electrified high-speed rail service, traveling between 90 and 110 mph, began on Oct. 30, 2006 in the 104-mile Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg Keystone Corridor. Yet to achieve 150 or 300 mph, milestones set by Europe and Asia, this will be the first electrified high-speed rail service established outside of the Northeast Corridor's Boston to Washington, D.C. route. (Executive Intelligence Review; Nov. 3, 2006)
  • Electrification of transportation as a response to peaking of world oil production - With this commentary, Light Rail Now initiates a series we're calling Electrification 101 – a discussion aimed at informing transportation professionals, decision-makers, and the public at large of the value and advantages of electrifying transportation operations, and the electrification of public transport systems in particular. This commentary, the first article in our series, has been slightly adapted from a professional paper prepared by the author. (Energy Bulletin; Dec. 19, 2005)

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