Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

The Prius of trains

There’s lots of talk in this year’s presidential campaign about hybrid cars. The thought is that we can make this inefficient mode of transport less wasteful through better use of technology. Well why not apply the same principle to rail travel? Why not make the already efficient option even more so? In this vein, rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier has debuted an “eco-train” that aims to achieve “20 to 30 percent less energy consumption.”

The retrofitted Bombardier Regina-model train recently hit speeds of 183 miles per hour, and did so with nature-friendly “ECO4” features developed by the company. A “Permanent Magnet Motor” cut operating costs and environmental impact, while a driver-assistance system provided data on speed and traction to save up to 15 percent of traction energy.

“This project has demonstrated why we believe that the climate is indeed right for trains,” said Klas Wahlberg, chief country representative of Bombardier Transportation Sweden. “This joint effort has shown that our ‘Green Train’ is not only the right train for operation in the Nordic region, but that it also presents a new generation of energy-efficient, sustainable high speed trains. Our ECO4 technologies can be customized to enhance the performance of any fleet, as we have shown today.

Whalberg suggests that this technology could be applied to any train fleet… That’s an interesting thought considering that Amtrak is desperately in need of new equipment, and that some environmentalists haven’t realized the eco-friendly potential of rail travel. No word on the cost though.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Filed under: Amtrak, International High Speed Rail, , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. Quincy says:

    General Electric has been developing hybrid technology for locomotives BTW– Use of regenerative braking to recover the energy that would otherwise be lost through braking.

    The General Electric P32AC-DM passenger locomotive for instance uses regenerative braking to contribute electrical power to the HEP system, which provides electricity for passenger coaches. It also uses more efficient and powerful AC traction motors, and it can run on either diesel fuel or on 3rd-rail electric. Amtrak and Metro North uses the P32AC-DM Genesis locomotives in the Northeast.

    GE has also been developing a hybrid version of the ES44AC Gevo heavy freight locomotive. It has a bank of batteries to store the energy from dynamic braking which in normal locomotives are dissipated as heat in the DB resistance grid. It will be 15% more efficient than the normal Gevos in service now.

  2. Ran says:

    It’s worth noting that Bombardier could devise a cure for cancer and Amtrak would not buy it from them, given the horrendous relations between the two companies following the Acelas’ many woes. Just a bit of useful background as you ponder Bombardier’s sales pitch.

  3. Adron says:

    Remember also, because of the FRA mandates, we can’t buy any new or useful high speed rail technology anyway. Amtrak can’t, even the states get into trouble when they buy equipment that is efficent, light weight, etc – re: Amtrak Cascades Talgos.

    Without a legislative fix to the FRA and all the absurd regulations they have, we’ll NEVER have high speed, or even efficient rail service in the United States again. This isn’t a matter of Amtrak, which they are another problem, but the big issue is the Government – namely the FRA – itself.

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August 2008


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