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, , , , ,

Sen. Dick Durbin proposes funding for more Amtrak rolling stock

According the Springfield’s State Journal-Register, Dick Durbin (the other senator from Illinois) has introduced legislation that would provide funding to improve Amtrak’s current cars and use 1/4 cent from the gas tax to create a fund for the company to buy new stock. Apparently these would be American built, as the bill also provides tax incentives for companies producing passenger train equipment to build facilities in the United States.

The bill proposes a package of financing options to bring Amtrak’s existing 1,500 passenger cars up to snuff and “lay the groundwork for the next generation of trains built in America,” he said.

Amtrak, which will receive federal subsidies of almost $1.4 billion in this fiscal year, uses another 140 or so passenger cars that are state-owned.

“We’re filling the cars we own, and we have to start expanding,” Durbin said. “We gave up production of train cars in this country years ago, and we need to re-establish that industry.”

I wasn’t able to find this piece of legislation on Open Congress or anything yet, but we’ll be checking around for more updates on this bill as time goes on. We all know that Amtrak’s limited equipment is in high-demand and under high-stress due to increased usage. This seems like a step in right direction to help rectify that situation.. although I’m not entirely sure that we can wait for American factories to start producing train stock again.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, , , , ,

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August 2021