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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Fuel-Sipping Trains

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  • 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 1 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
      >
      >



      ----- ### -----
      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      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 2 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 3 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.




          ----- ### -----
          J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
          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 4 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 5 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 6 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




                ----- ### -----
                J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
              • 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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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