5 High Speed Trains that are Changing the Face of Rail


Image credit: General Electric

China Mainline Evolution Train


It's not just passenger rail that needs to get its act together when it comes to efficiency. That's why Alex's report that Chinese railroads have been rolling out 300 fuel-efficient GE locomotives is such good news. The new trains deliver 40% more power, combined with 3 – 5 % less fuel use. The lighter weight locomotives, part of the GE China Mainline Evolution series, are also claimed to release 84% less overall emissions – which given China's legendary problems with air quality is a welcome development indeed.


Image credit: General Electric

GE Prototype Hybrid Locomotive


And GE is continuing to push fuel efficient trains with further research too. The company's prototype hybrid locomotive claims 10% efficiency improvements through innovations such as regenerative breaking, which charges a set of sodium nickel chloride (Na-NiCl2) batteries, as well as an onboard “fuel optimizer” system. Of course, as Lloyd pointed out (to much debate), if we really want to see improvements on America’s railroads, it might be time to follow the rest of the world and go electric on a massive scale.

Where Next for Rail in the Americas?

I was tempted to name this post "7 reasons why American rail operators should step up", but there is hope on this side of the Atlantic too. Argentina is already leading the way in the Americas with high-speed rail that will connect the 440 mile (710km) corridor between Buenos Aires and Rosario and Cordoba, cutting travel times from a current fourteen hours to a mere 3. And let’s not forget that, thanks to a recent vote, high-speed passenger rail may finally be coming to California, offering convenient and modern travel between downtown LA and San Francisco or Sacramento in just two-and-a-half hours! Now if the powers that be could just pay heed to New Urbanist Andy Kuntz's appeal for a rail network that would bring mass transport in the USA and Canada into the 21st century - that might really be an economic stimulus package worth shouting about.

Tags: Fuel Efficiency | Trains | Transportation