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Fuel-Sipping Trains

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  • Richard Risemberg
    ... -- Richard Risemberg http://www.bicyclefixation.com http://www.newcolonist.com http://www.rickrise.com
    Message 1 of 18 , Jun 12, 2007
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      > Fuel-sipping trains
      > June 11, 2007
      >
      >
      > With energy prices high and likely to go higher in the years ahead,
      > it would make sense for the nation to embrace a transportation
      > policy that puts a premium on energy efficiency. Transportation,
      > along with electrical power generation, is the country's biggest
      > consumer of fossil and renewable fuels. So what is the most fuel-
      > efficient form of transportation available in the U.S. today?
      > Believe it or not, it's Amtrak. According to a recent study
      > published by the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National
      > Laboratory, Amtrak uses less energy per passenger mile than cars,
      > airlines or even subways and commuter rail systems. In fact, the
      > relative disadvantage of commercial airlines and cars is
      > particularly pronounced - both use more than one-fifth more energy
      > per passenger mile than Amtrak's trains.
      > The study doesn't take into account rail's many additional
      > environmental benefits. Passenger trains tend to support
      > pedestrian- and transit-oriented development, for instance, while
      > emissions from aircraft have a far worse impact on global warming
      > because of the high altitude.
      > Yet Amtrak continues to be treated as little more than an
      > afterthought in national energy and environmental policy
      > discussions. President Bush has proposed spending just $800 million
      > on Amtrak in fiscal 2008. That's a half-billion dollars less than
      > was spent the year before.
      > The general public has been far more supportive. Ridership has
      > increased each of the last four years, and Amtrak officials note
      > that it's up again this year. The biggest gains were posted on
      > relatively short routes of 500 miles or less outside the Northeast,
      > where it's already popular.
      > In general, Amtrak recovers about 67 percent of its operating costs
      > through sales, but the rest requires a taxpayer subsidy - much in
      > the same way that highways, bridges, airports, transit buses and
      > other forms of transportation infrastructure are government
      > subsidized.
      > What passenger rail really needs is billions of dollars in
      > additional capital investment - to replace aging equipment and
      > upgrade track in order to provide faster, more efficient service
      > that would allow Amtrak to better compete with no-frills airlines.
      > From China to Germany, other countries are making that kind of
      > investment in the future while the U.S. sits on the sidelines. High-
      > speed rail has enormous potential, but it first requires government
      > support.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Copyright © 2007, The Baltimore Sun | Get Sun home delivery

      --
      Richard Risemberg
      http://www.bicyclefixation.com
      http://www.newcolonist.com
      http://www.rickrise.com
    • J.H. Crawford
      Newspaper people often have trouble with math.... Can Amtrak really be as little as 20% more efficient than planes and cars??? Joel ... J.H. Crawford
      Message 2 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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        Newspaper people often have trouble with math....

        Can Amtrak really be as little as 20% more efficient
        than planes and cars???

        Joel

        At 2007-06-12 20:44, Richard Risember posted:

        >> Fuel-sipping trains
        >> June 11, 2007
        >>
        >> Believe it or not, it's Amtrak. According to a recent study
        >> published by the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National
        >> Laboratory, Amtrak uses less energy per passenger mile than cars,
        >> airlines or even subways and commuter rail systems. In fact, the
        >> relative disadvantage of commercial airlines and cars is
        >> particularly pronounced - both use more than one-fifth more energy
        >> per passenger mile than Amtrak's trains.






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        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
      • Matt Hohmeister
        http://www.airwaysociety.org/airway/milespergallon/index.htm I m not attesting to this page s accuracy, but if it is accurate...it says as much as 108
        Message 3 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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          http://www.airwaysociety.org/airway/milespergallon/index.htm

          I'm not attesting to this page's accuracy, but if it is accurate...it says as much as 108
          passenger miles per gallon.

          A 26 MPG Honda Civic fully loaded with five passengers? 130 passenger miles per gallon.

          Even regarding this as fact, we are ignoring the environmental and economic costs of
          producing the cars (which might be be parked 23 hours per day) vs. rail cars that receive
          near-continuous use, costs of roads and associated space, etc.

          Also, can a bit of efficiency credit be given to Amtrak, considering that they're also hauling
          cafés, bedrooms, bathrooms, showers, etc? Last I checked, the "square feet per passenger"
          factor is slightly higher on a (especially sleeper) train vs. airplanes or cars.

          > Newspaper people often have trouble with math....
          >
          > Can Amtrak really be as little as 20% more efficient
          > than planes and cars???
          >
          > Joel
        • J.H. Crawford
          I don t trust that page; I ve found a number of errors without really looking. Surely someone, somewhere has put together a good synopsis. You have to be
          Message 4 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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            I don't trust that page; I've found a number of errors
            without really looking. Surely someone, somewhere has
            put together a good synopsis.

            You have to be careful to differentiate between
            SEAT-miles/gallon
            and
            PASSENGER-miles/gallon

            Joel

            At 2007-06-13 13:00, you wrote:

            ><http://www.airwaysociety.org/airway/milespergallon/index.htm>http://www.airwaysociety.org/airway/milespergallon/index.htm
            >
            >I'm not attesting to this page's accuracy, but if it is accurate...it says as much as 108
            >passenger miles per gallon.
            >
            >A 26 MPG Honda Civic fully loaded with five passengers? 130 passenger miles per gallon.
            >
            >Even regarding this as fact, we are ignoring the environmental and economic costs of
            >producing the cars (which might be be parked 23 hours per day) vs. rail cars that receive
            >near-continuous use, costs of roads and associated space, etc.
            >
            >Also, can a bit of efficiency credit be given to Amtrak, considering that they're also hauling
            >cafés, bedrooms, bathrooms, showers, etc? Last I checked, the "square feet per passenger"
            >factor is slightly higher on a (especially sleeper) train vs. airplanes or cars.
            >
            >> Newspaper people often have trouble with math....
            >>
            >> Can Amtrak really be as little as 20% more efficient
            >> than planes and cars???
            >>
            >> Joel
            >
            >



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            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
          • Richard Risemberg
            ... Leaving aside the question of whether a 500-mile trip in a Honda Civic crammed with five passengers would be tolerable, I still fell that the numbers are
            Message 5 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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              On Jun 13, 2007, at 3:20 PM, J.H. Crawford wrote:

              >
              > I don't trust that page; I've found a number of errors
              > without really looking. Surely someone, somewhere has
              > put together a good synopsis.
              >
              > You have to be careful to differentiate between
              > SEAT-miles/gallon
              > and
              > PASSENGER-miles/gallon
              Leaving aside the question of whether a 500-mile trip in a Honda
              Civic crammed with five passengers would be tolerable, I still fell
              that the numbers are off in the Baltimore Sun article, since trains
              are generally four times as fuel efficient per pound-mile for
              freight, so why such a small difference for passengers? Except
              possibly because of the trains being too short for the amount of
              horsepower of a standard over-the-road loco these days.

              I know Japanese shinkansen run up to 2,000-passenger loads (at ten-
              minute headways during peak hours!), as I counted the seats when I
              was on 'em a while ago; I think Amtrak puts fewer than 800 on a
              train....

              Here's a table from http://www.vtpi.org estimating energy use per
              passenger mile in BTUs:

              BTUs/Passenger Mile

              Car: 3,578

              Vans, Pickup Trucks, SUVs: 4,495

              Aviation: 4,000

              Transit, Bus: 3,697

              Intercity Rail, diesel: 2,134

              Transit, Electric Light Rail: 1,152

              Obviously they use some statistical assumption about vehicle
              occupation levels. To quote them:

              "Fuel consumption and emission rates per passenger-mile depend on
              load factors: A bus with 50 passengers uses about one-tenth the
              energy per passenger-mile as an average automobile, but in the U.S.,
              energy consumption per passenger-mile is little higher for transit
              systems than for driving, due to low load factors. In other
              countries, and in U.S. cities with higher levels of transit demand,
              transit is much more energy efficient than driving."

              Again, from a different article in the VPTI.org site ( http://
              www.vtpi.org/railbensum.pdf ):

              "Rail transit can provide substantial energy conservation and
              emission reduction benefits.
              Rail travel consumes about a fifth of the energy per passenger-mile
              as automobile travel,
              due to its high mechanical efficiency and load factors. Electric
              powered rail produce
              minimal air and noise emissions. Rail provides even greater energy
              and emission
              reduction benefits when it leverages additional reductions in vehicle
              travel."

              So something may be fishy....

              Cheers,

              Rick
              --
              Richard Risemberg
              http://www.bicyclefixation.com
              http://www.newcolonist.com
              http://www.rickrise.com
            • J.H. Crawford
              This WikiPedia article is also worth a look, but it is also not flawless: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency_in_transportation Passenger trains, by
              Message 6 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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                This WikiPedia article is also worth a look, but it
                is also not flawless:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency_in_transportation

                Passenger trains, by the way, are generally WAY to heavy in the
                USA, due to extreme requirements for crashworthiness imposed
                by the FRA. The American approach is to assume that trains
                will crash and you need to protect the passengers. The
                European approach is to make sure they don't crash. Europe
                appears to have much better overall safety. The lightweight
                French TGVs have never had a passenger fatality, I believe.

                Joel


                At 2007-06-13 17:43, you wrote:

                >On Jun 13, 2007, at 3:20 PM, J.H. Crawford wrote:
                >
                >>
                >> I don't trust that page; I've found a number of errors
                >> without really looking. Surely someone, somewhere has
                >> put together a good synopsis.
                >>
                >> You have to be careful to differentiate between
                >> SEAT-miles/gallon
                >> and
                >> PASSENGER-miles/gallon
                >Leaving aside the question of whether a 500-mile trip in a Honda
                >Civic crammed with five passengers would be tolerable, I still fell
                >that the numbers are off in the Baltimore Sun article, since trains
                >are generally four times as fuel efficient per pound-mile for
                >freight, so why such a small difference for passengers? Except
                >possibly because of the trains being too short for the amount of
                >horsepower of a standard over-the-road loco these days.
                >
                >I know Japanese shinkansen run up to 2,000-passenger loads (at ten-
                >minute headways during peak hours!), as I counted the seats when I
                >was on 'em a while ago; I think Amtrak puts fewer than 800 on a
                >train....
                >
                >Here's a table from <http://www.vtpi.org>http://www.vtpi.org estimating energy use per
                >passenger mile in BTUs:
                >
                >BTUs/Passenger Mile
                >
                >Car: 3,578
                >
                >Vans, Pickup Trucks, SUVs: 4,495
                >
                >Aviation: 4,000
                >
                >Transit, Bus: 3,697
                >
                >Intercity Rail, diesel: 2,134
                >
                >Transit, Electric Light Rail: 1,152
                >
                >Obviously they use some statistical assumption about vehicle
                >occupation levels. To quote them:
                >
                >"Fuel consumption and emission rates per passenger-mile depend on
                >load factors: A bus with 50 passengers uses about one-tenth the
                >energy per passenger-mile as an average automobile, but in the U.S.,
                >energy consumption per passenger-mile is little higher for transit
                >systems than for driving, due to low load factors. In other
                >countries, and in U.S. cities with higher levels of transit demand,
                >transit is much more energy efficient than driving."
                >
                >Again, from a different article in the VPTI.org site ( http://
                >www.vtpi.org/railbensum.pdf ):
                >
                >"Rail transit can provide substantial energy conservation and
                >emission reduction benefits.
                >Rail travel consumes about a fifth of the energy per passenger-mile
                >as automobile travel,
                >due to its high mechanical efficiency and load factors. Electric
                >powered rail produce
                >minimal air and noise emissions. Rail provides even greater energy
                >and emission
                >reduction benefits when it leverages additional reductions in vehicle
                >travel."
                >
                >So something may be fishy....
                >
                >Cheers,
                >
                >Rick
                >--
                >Richard Risemberg
                ><http://www.bicyclefixation.com>http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                >http://www.newcolonist.com
                ><http://www.rickrise.com>http://www.rickrise.com
                >
                >



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                mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
              • Richard Risemberg
                ... As far as I know there has been one fatality in forty+ years of bullet train travel: in Germany (faulty wheel caused a derailment). Japan initiated
                Message 7 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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                  On Jun 13, 2007, at 3:54 PM, J.H. Crawford wrote:

                  >
                  > This WikiPedia article is also worth a look, but it
                  > is also not flawless:
                  >
                  > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency_in_transportation
                  >
                  > Passenger trains, by the way, are generally WAY to heavy in the
                  > USA, due to extreme requirements for crashworthiness imposed
                  > by the FRA. The American approach is to assume that trains
                  > will crash and you need to protect the passengers. The
                  > European approach is to make sure they don't crash. Europe
                  > appears to have much better overall safety. The lightweight
                  > French TGVs have never had a passenger fatality, I believe.
                  As far as I know there has been one fatality in forty+ years of
                  bullet train travel: in Germany (faulty wheel caused a derailment).
                  Japan initiated shinkansen service in 1964, and has continually
                  increased running speeds since then.

                  To quote Wikipedia (hence not the final word!):

                  "There have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or
                  collisions during operation of the Shinkansen, including during
                  earthquakes or typhoons, in its 40 plus year 6 billion passenger
                  history. Injuries and a single fatality have been caused by doors
                  closing on passengers or their belongings. Attendants are at
                  platforms to prevent this. Japan's record over its earthquake
                  detection system was why Taiwan chose Shinkansen over the ICE.
                  "There have been suicides by passengers jumping both from and in
                  front of moving trains. This has resulted in some stations installing
                  barriers preventing passengers from accessing the tracks, although an
                  incident on January 9, 1999 at Sakudaira Station on the Nagano
                  Shinkansen showed that even these would not stop determined suicides.
                  A man climbed a safety barrier and was hit by a non-stop service.

                  "The only derailment of a Shinkansen train in passenger service
                  occurred during the Chūetsu Earthquake on October 23, 2004. Eight of
                  ten cars of the Toki No. 325 train on the Jōetsu Shinkansen derailed
                  near Nagaoka Station in Nagaoka, Niigata. However, there were no
                  casualties among the 154 passengers. [2] In the event of an
                  earthquake, an earthquake detection system can bring the train to a
                  stop very quickly. The next generation FASTECH 360 trains will have
                  ear-like air resistance braking flaps to assist emergency stops at
                  high speeds."



                  Rick


                  --
                  Richard Risemberg
                  http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                  http://www.newcolonist.com
                  http://www.rickrise.com
                • J.H. Crawford
                  ... Not to pick nits, but the German ICE wreck facts are: Nearly 100 killed Speed only 200 km/hr (not true high-speed operation) A tire came off a wheel, train
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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                    >As far as I know there has been one fatality in forty+ years of
                    >bullet train travel: in Germany (faulty wheel caused a derailment).


                    Not to pick nits, but the German ICE wreck facts are:

                    Nearly 100 killed
                    Speed only 200 km/hr (not true high-speed operation)
                    A tire came off a wheel, train derailed several km. before
                    a switch at which the train split, rear 2/3s of
                    train ran into an abutment at full speed

                    This was a really terrible wreck, and I think many
                    more were badly injured.

                    The steel tire coming off a wheel is a known risk but
                    is supposed to be detected before disaster strikes.
                    (manufacturing defect in this case)

                    If an alert passenger had pulled the rip cord when the
                    wheels started to hammer on the concrete (?) ties,
                    there probably would have been no wreck.




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                    mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                  • Richard Risemberg
                    Hmmm--sorry about that. I was working from memory and did not double check as I did with the Japanese info. Rick ... -- Richard Risemberg
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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                      Hmmm--sorry about that. I was working from memory and did not double
                      check as I did with the Japanese info.

                      Rick

                      On Jun 13, 2007, at 4:24 PM, J.H. Crawford wrote:

                      >
                      >
                      >> As far as I know there has been one fatality in forty+ years of
                      >> bullet train travel: in Germany (faulty wheel caused a derailment).
                      >
                      >
                      > Not to pick nits, but the German ICE wreck facts are:
                      >
                      > Nearly 100 killed
                      > Speed only 200 km/hr (not true high-speed operation)
                      > A tire came off a wheel, train derailed several km. before
                      > a switch at which the train split, rear 2/3s of
                      > train ran into an abutment at full speed
                      >
                      > This was a really terrible wreck, and I think many
                      > more were badly injured.
                      >
                      > The steel tire coming off a wheel is a known risk but
                      > is supposed to be detected before disaster strikes.
                      > (manufacturing defect in this case)
                      >
                      > If an alert passenger had pulled the rip cord when the
                      > wheels started to hammer on the concrete (?) ties,
                      > there probably would have been no wreck.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > ----- ### -----
                      > J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                      > mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >

                      --
                      Richard Risemberg
                      http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                      http://www.newcolonist.com
                      http://www.rickrise.com
                    • Joel Siegel
                      I m hoping this is on-topic (certainly follows the subject line). It concerns the fuel/energy requirements for _high-speed_ rail. George Monbiot has an
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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                        I'm hoping this is on-topic (certainly follows the subject line). It concerns the fuel/energy requirements for _high-speed_ rail.

                        George Monbiot has an article in the 7-May-2007 issue of The Nation. Titled "Flying Into Trouble", it mostly covers the environmental damage (particularly greenhouse emissions) resulting from air travel.

                        http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070507/monbiot (subscription required)

                        A paragraph from the article on that topic: "Carbon dioxide emissions per passenger mile from a standard airliner are very similar to those from cars. But you can cover nearly 15,000 miles in one day by plane. The CO2 produced by planes is augmented by the other greenhouse gases they release, magnifying its effect by 270 percent. This means that flying is one of the most destructive things we can do."

                        Monbiot also observes that "new [aviation] fuels are the stuff of fantasy[]", that "[t]he standard jet engine has more or less reached the limits of efficiency, and there is no replacement anywhere near production[]", and that new aircraft designs which might cut fuel consumption by 30% or so are barely in the "concept" stage, with unproven workability or stability.

                        High-speed rail does not escape criticism, however.

                        "The obvious replacements for planes are scarcely better. Fast passenger ships appear to be even worse for the environment than jets. ... [Paragraph] Nor are ultra-high-speed trains the answer. Though trains traveling at normal speeds have much lower carbon emissions than airplanes, Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University shows that energy consumption rises dramatically at speeds above 125 miles per hour. Increasing the speed from 140 to 220 mph almost doubles the amount of fuel burned. If the trains are powered by electricity, and if that electricity is produced by plants burning fossil fuels, they cause more CO2 emissions than planes. Running trains on renewable electricity is certainly possible, but this faces problems: Trains must run on time, and that means there is little room for 'demand management,' which means reducing the electricity load in response to fluctuations in supply. In all transport systems, high performance is incompatible with low consumption. The faster you go, the more energy you need."

                        In general, the last sentence is the important one: Monbiot contends that high speed is incompatible with environmental stewardship, particularly with preventing runaway climate change, at least with today's technologies or those whose viability becomes reasonably foreseeable in the near future.

                        Thoughts?

                        Regards,

                        Joel (Siegel)
                      • J.H. Crawford
                        ... That s physics at work: resistance increases with the square of the speed. There are ways around it, to a degree. If the trains are light, energy
                        Message 11 of 18 , Jun 13, 2007
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                          Joel Siegel said:

                          >High-speed rail does not escape criticism, however.
                          >
                          >"The obvious replacements for planes are scarcely better. Fast passenger ships appear to be even worse for the environment than jets. ... [Paragraph] Nor are ultra-high-speed trains the answer. Though trains traveling at normal speeds have much lower carbon emissions than airplanes, Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University shows that energy consumption rises dramatically at speeds above 125 miles per hour. Increasing the speed from 140 to 220 mph almost doubles the amount of fuel burned. If the trains are powered by electricity, and if that electricity is produced by plants burning fossil fuels, they cause more CO2 emissions than planes. Running trains on renewable electricity is certainly possible, but this faces problems: Trains must run on time, and that means there is little room for 'demand management,' which means reducing the electricity load in response to fluctuations in supply. In all transport systems, high performance is incompatible with low consumption. The faster you go, the more energy you need."

                          That's physics at work: resistance increases with the
                          square of the speed. There are ways around it, to a degree.
                          If the trains are light, energy requirements are much
                          reduced. If the streamlining is good, resistances is
                          also reduced. I have heard (no substantiation) that the
                          double-decker TGVs running from Lyon to Paris use about
                          the same amount of seat-mile energy as conventional
                          trains despite running at 300 km/hr or so. They are
                          very light weight, have low frontal area for the number
                          of seats, and the streamlining is good. That's about
                          the limit of the technology, IMHO. I also think that
                          it probably doesn't make sense to run trains much above
                          300 km/hr. The newest TGVs are 360, but the cost is
                          large and the actual reduction in travel time is not
                          great. Not worth the cost?

                          It is NOT all that hard to store electricity, although
                          there are losses. Pump storage is proven and can be
                          used, essentially, to store electricity. Pump water
                          up hill when there's plenty of electricity. Let it
                          flow back down hill to turn generators when there's
                          not enough. Losses are about 30% IIRC.

                          But, in general, things are probably going to have to
                          slow down, unless you go with the nuke option.

                          Regards,

                          Joel




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                        • dawie_coetzee
                          There are secondary effects that are not reflected in any of these comparisons. For instance, a railway station within easy reach of pedestrians will both be
                          Message 12 of 18 , Jun 14, 2007
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                            There are secondary effects that are not reflected in any of these
                            comparisons. For instance, a railway station within easy reach of
                            pedestrians will both be symptomatic of and increase the viability of
                            pedestrian-accessible destinations in general. Compared with car travel
                            there is therefore at worst a lesser tendency to generate a need to
                            travel. In practice there might well be a tendency to reduce the need
                            to travel.

                            We all know how car-dominated environments create dependence on cars,
                            requiring that we take longer trips more often. A truer comparison
                            might be 1km by train to perhaps 8km by car, 7km of the latter
                            contributed solely by the sort of environment associated with that mode
                            of transport. Has anyone actually quantified this?

                            -Dawie

                            --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Richard Risemberg <rickrise@...>
                            wrote:
                            >
                            > > Fuel-sipping trains
                            > > June 11, 2007
                            > >
                            > >
                            ...
                          • Jym Dyer
                            ... =v= In the U.S. cars are rarely filled to seating capacity. The average ridership is slightly over 1 person per car. So it s hard to take numbers like that
                            Message 13 of 18 , Jun 14, 2007
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                              > A 26 MPG Honda Civic fully loaded with five passengers?
                              > 130 passenger miles per gallon.

                              =v= In the U.S. cars are rarely filled to seating capacity.
                              The average ridership is slightly over 1 person per car.
                              So it's hard to take numbers like that seriously.

                              =v= Also, wow, Honda Civics are way down to 26 MPG now?

                              =v= One complication in these comparisons is that passenger
                              rail in the U.S. has very little dedicated track. For the
                              most part Amtrak runs on track owned by freight companies.

                              =v= Another complication is that Amtrak is subject to a dogmatic
                              "business model" that competing modes are not. The ideology is
                              that Amtrak should turn a profit, and there's a budget fight for
                              its small subsidy every year. So service keeps getting hurt and
                              the trains do such things as haul freight along with passengers
                              (preventing a switchover to lighter trains).

                              =v= Meanwhile, of course, cars and planes enjoy a staggeringly
                              high and rarely-mentioned subsidy.
                              <_Jym_>
                            • Greg Steele
                              There is an accountant joke I once heard where three accountants are applying for an executive position. The CEO of the company asks each of the candidates
                              Message 14 of 18 , Jun 14, 2007
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                                There is an accountant joke I once heard where three accountants are
                                applying for an executive position. The CEO of the company asks
                                each of the candidates what is 2+2. Two of the applicants says 4
                                and don't get the job. The third, who gets the job, asks the
                                CEO, "What do you want it to be?"

                                I am not aware of any studies that would answer some important
                                questions raised in this discussion and in the larger discussion
                                about funding for rail.

                                The laws of physics say that the faster an object moves through
                                space the more resistance it will encounter, therefore, more energy
                                is required to achieve higher speeds. I am sure that the field of
                                aero-dynamics has can provide formulas to quantify this in terms of
                                frontal area and speed. What is lacking is a quantified functional
                                relationship of increased weight and drag from adding one additional
                                coach car to a train-set. Intuitively, it seems that adding cars
                                (therefore, more passengers) would add a very small increase in
                                energy usage while greatly improving the passenger- miles/gallon
                                ratio. Therefore, one could state the passenger- miles/gallon to be
                                anything they wanted to by adding or subtracting the number of
                                coaches/passengers per train. There are of course practical limits
                                to how long a passenger train can be in terms of station platforms
                                and crews. In addition, at some point the weight of the train will
                                require an additional locomotive which alters the equation.

                                I have heard passenger – miles/gallon figures that are all over the
                                map. Until someone does some hard science on this that deduces the
                                issue to friction of steel wheels on steel rails vs. rubber wheels
                                on assault. I suggest that we look at any calculation of passenger –
                                miles/gallon will a great deal of skepticism.
                              • J.H. Crawford
                                This is all pretty tangential. The basic physics are: It takes lots of energy to accelerate a train, and the total amount of that energy increases with the
                                Message 15 of 18 , Jun 14, 2007
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                                  This is all pretty tangential. The basic physics are:

                                  It takes lots of energy to accelerate a train, and the
                                  total amount of that energy increases with the SQUARE
                                  of the speed.

                                  It takes lots of energy to drag trains up hills; this
                                  is related to weight and elevation, not to speed.

                                  Long, thin objects have high "Reynolds Numbers" which
                                  means that the amount of air drag is considerably lower
                                  than for short, fat objects.

                                  Mass of a train has no effect whatever on the amount
                                  of aerodynamic drag.

                                  Light, long, streamlined trains are the most efficient.
                                  Slower trains are more efficient than faster ones, all
                                  other things being equal.

                                  Again, the TGV double-decker gets good efficiency despite
                                  its very high speed.

                                  Regards,


                                  ----- ### -----
                                  J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                                  mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                                • Matt Hohmeister
                                  Actually, this brings up a question I ve been wondering for some time. In an era of dwindling oil supplies, are we better off with jets or ships? 747 or QM2?
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Jun 17, 2007
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                                    Actually, this brings up a question I've been wondering for some time. In an era of dwindling
                                    oil supplies, are we better off with jets or ships? 747 or QM2? Or is there another solution?
                                    Anybody?

                                    > "The obvious replacements for planes are scarcely better. Fast passenger ships appear to
                                    be even worse for the environment than jets. ... [Paragraph] Nor are ultra-high-speed trains
                                    the answer. Though trains traveling at normal speeds have much lower carbon emissions
                                    than airplanes, Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University shows that energy consumption
                                    rises dramatically at speeds above 125 miles per hour. Increasing the speed from 140 to 220
                                    mph almost doubles the amount of fuel burned. If the trains are powered by electricity, and if
                                    that electricity is produced by plants burning fossil fuels, they cause more CO2 emissions
                                    than planes. Running trains on renewable electricity is certainly possible, but this faces
                                    problems: Trains must run on time, and that means there is little room for 'demand
                                    management,' which means reducing the electricity load in response to fluctuations in
                                    supply. In all transport systems, high performance is incompatible with low consumption.
                                    The faster you go, the more energy you need."
                                  • Richard Risemberg
                                    ... Ships do not have to be powered by oil or coal. Highly refined sailing vessels with solar auxiliary power for days of calms and for harbor maneuvering can
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Jun 17, 2007
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                                      On Jun 17, 2007, at 8:40 PM, Matt Hohmeister wrote:

                                      > Actually, this brings up a question I've been wondering for some
                                      > time. In an era of dwindling
                                      > oil supplies, are we better off with jets or ships? 747 or QM2? Or
                                      > is there another solution?
                                      > Anybody?
                                      >
                                      Ships do not have to be powered by oil or coal. Highly refined
                                      sailing vessels with solar auxiliary power for days of calms and for
                                      harbor maneuvering can move considerable tonnage and numbers of
                                      passengers. However, it is obvious that if we are serious about
                                      sustainability, we will have to accept that international trade and
                                      travel will be slower and more expensive. (Although someone, upon my
                                      telling them this, suggested that sail transport labor costs could be
                                      lowered by using crews of slaves...I hope they were kidding.)

                                      And no, I don't think nuclear-powered ships are the answer!

                                      http://tinyurl.com/25u5bt

                                      Rick
                                      --
                                      Richard Risemberg
                                      http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                                      http://www.newcolonist.com
                                      http://www.rickrise.com
                                    • dawie_coetzee
                                      Localization. ...it is obvious that if we are serious about sustainability, we will have to accept that international trade and travel will be slower and more
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Jun 18, 2007
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                                        Localization.

                                        "...it is obvious that if we are serious about sustainability, we
                                        will have to accept that international trade and travel will be
                                        slower and more expensive."

                                        Precisely. I know Joel Crawford takes a somewhat contrary position in
                                        his book, but I'm a firm localist. Pedestrian cities and localized
                                        economies are perfect for each other. Indeed, the one only comes to
                                        full fruition in the context of the other.

                                        -Dawie



                                        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Richard Risemberg
                                        <rickrise@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > On Jun 17, 2007, at 8:40 PM, Matt Hohmeister wrote:
                                        >
                                        > > Actually, this brings up a question I've been wondering for some
                                        > > time. In an era of dwindling
                                        > > oil supplies, are we better off with jets or ships? 747 or QM2?
                                        Or
                                        > > is there another solution?
                                        > > Anybody?
                                        > >
                                        > Ships do not have to be powered by oil or coal. Highly refined
                                        > sailing vessels with solar auxiliary power for days of calms and
                                        for
                                        > harbor maneuvering can move considerable tonnage and numbers of
                                        > passengers. However, it is obvious that if we are serious about
                                        > sustainability, we will have to accept that international trade
                                        and
                                        > travel will be slower and more expensive. (Although someone, upon
                                        my
                                        > telling them this, suggested that sail transport labor costs could
                                        be
                                        > lowered by using crews of slaves...I hope they were kidding.)
                                        >
                                        > And no, I don't think nuclear-powered ships are the answer!
                                        >
                                        > http://tinyurl.com/25u5bt
                                        >
                                        > Rick
                                        > --
                                        > Richard Risemberg
                                        > http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                                        > http://www.newcolonist.com
                                        > http://www.rickrise.com
                                        >
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