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Question:

Will the U.S. phase out commuter trains that use diesel and switch to electric trains in the future?

Will the U.S. phase out commuter trains that use diesel and switch to electric trains in the future?

Answer:

Derail Dieterzakas have the most VALID point (as opposed to green-dreams): 1) Electrical trains require power plants, and MOST people don't want a power plant built near by. 2) The VAST expense of electrification. Cal Train (an 80 mile commuter route in the San Francisco-San Jose) has been discussing electrification for a decade now at a cost of roughly $700 million (2001 dollars). Using THAT figure, this would work out to a cost of $10 million a mile. The BIG problem in California is power !! We've been under-powered in this state for almost two decades, and YET the environmentalists fight tooth and nail against ANY new power source !! They oppose coal of course (even though the 1 MWatt plant my brother supervises puts out less pollutants than a dozen cars) they oppose nuclear power, they oppose hydro-electric because it requires dams that flood a valley HECK, they even oppose the wind-generators because they might hit a bird !! WE NEED more nuclear plants, we need smarter grids, and we need other green sources. BUT electrification isn't the magic solution diesel locomotives are efficient and effective.
Well this certainly turned out to be a political question. But such things usually come down to the bunny huggers vs. those who fear and loathe change. It's easy enough to spot who is who. Anyway, railroad electrification can be done quite well. The Cato Institute is a Washington lobby group in the fear and loathe change category, and about as anti-transit as you can get. Still they approve of BART, which uses lightweight cars and regenerative braking. As for when it will happen, that's really a question of the price of gas. Even a commuter railroad is a business. Of course, the price of gas is a question. If you look at inflation-adjusted numbers, around 2000 it was the cheapest it's been in history, and then in 2008 it was the most expensive in history. It jerks up, it jerks down, it jerks us around. Being dependent on a highly variable commodity is no way to run a business. Price stability is worth money too. With electric generation you can at least own your own energy source.
I'd like to think that the US will catch up with Europe in terms of rail electrification. Unfortunately it seem unlikely. As has been hinted, electrification works best when there are high passenger densities together with a high frequency service. The set-up costs are initially high, but the running costs compared to diesel are generally lower. Besides, an electrified rail network can be as green as the power supply it's hooked up to. Sure it could be supplied from a dirty great coal-fired power station, but there is nothing to prevent the energy being generated in greener, more environmentally responsible ways where such facilites exist (or can be provided).
Bombardier has come up with some new technology that will not require the ugly overhead power lines. Right now its being geared for trams and light rail. A box is buried underneath the track, and when the train passes over there is a surge of energy that gets passed to the train battery. A person can walk over the track and box, but they will not be affected. Right now the technology is not advanced enough for heavier trains. Massachusetts will probably go to a new dual mode locomotive by Bombardier thats being built right now in Kassel Germany. It has a pantograph on top for the power lines. When it comes to a line without power it uses diesel and battery. Its really a revolutionary locomotive that will be ready in 2011. New Jersey Transit has 28 on order with an option to buy almost 90 locomotives if it works out.
The diesel engine in a diesel-electric powered locomotive is barely used because of the fact the purpose potential for an electric powered generator which, needless to say, creates electrical energy that's then used to potential the locomotive's traction automobiles; gearing discovered/housed interior the truck assembly (the place the wheels are). So, genuinely, diesel-electrics (whether frequently talked approximately as merely diesels) are an electric powered locomotive that genuinely incorporates its very own potential plant on board. because of the fact the above poster reported, electrical energy is plenty greater efficient than merely utilising a diesel engine and generates plenty greater tractive attempt and known potential for a locomotive (case in point, overhead electric powered locomotives are the terrific form of purpose potential, wherein they actually artwork greater sturdy as tonnage/grades develop).

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