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#1 2014-03-15 10:31:08

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,920
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Environmental initiatives for Earth

From another discussion:

JoshNH4H wrote:

according to this website rail costs about 30% as much per ton-mile as does sea transport

Very interesting. This strongly argues for intermodal transport for goods within the United States and Canada. That means using a shipping container, carried by rail from city to city. A truck carries the container from supplier to intermodal terminal for transfer to rail. Then another truck carries the container from intermodal terminal at the destination city to final customer. This should eliminate interstate trucking, dramatically reducing truck traffic on interstate highways. It also means truck drivers never leave their city, so get to have dinner and sleep at night with their spouse.

This addresses an environmental issue. One professor told me covering ground with pavement causes increased absorption of sunlight. Highways take away farm land. And pavement redirects ground water into storm drains and ditches. In the Canadian province where I live, we have an increasing problem with floods in spring. This is due to drainage ditches, to drain water quickly. Water used to be held with natural ponds, sloughs, and stormwater retention ponds. Directing water into drainage ditches causes spring melt to drain rapidly, causing rivers to flood. Rail tracks are more narrow, fewer lanes/tracks, and have gravel beds with no ditch. Less land, and rain soaks into ground.

This emphasises one point I keep repeating: all environmental initiatives must save people money. Anything that costs money just won't happen. Replacing inter-provincial or inter-state trucking with intermodal rail-truck, saves money. That's why business will use it, not any environment reasons. Scheduling must be done better to deliver goods from door-to-door just as quickly as trucks.

This is unlikely to reduce existing highways, but can replace new highways or expansion of existing highways. That reduces government cost. It also reduces flood expenses.

Intermodal already exists. And given how inexpensive rail is, why does the long distance trucking industry exist at all? The problem scheduling. Total time from shipper's door to receiver's door. Currently, rail often stacks intermodal containers in a pile at the terminal. What we need is to schedule shipments so a line of trucks waits at the terminal just as the train arives. Line up trucks in the same order as train cars. One container is transfered directly from train to truck, and the truck drives off to its destination. The container never touches ground. That isn't done, so intermodal is slow. Trains are not slower than trucks, it's the transfer between vehicles. Is there a scheduling manager working for a rail company with intermodal service who is capable of doing this? Basically, it's up to one manager at each terminal.

Europe also has containers optimized for domestic use. They're lighter than containers design for sea; these containers are for use by truck and train only. They aren't strong enough to stack as high as an ocean ship's cargo hold, and aren't designed to withstand salt water. But lighter weight reduces fuel cost.

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#2 2014-03-15 19:34:57

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
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Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

Well, I'm sold.  I should add that I only linked to someone's blog.  While I find the numbers believable they aren't authoritative.

Another benefit to trains is that their large size makes more efficient engines practical.  For example while a truck is only pulling that one trailer and so has a few hundred hp tops, a train can pull hundreds of cars and therefore needs to put out more power.  At higher power outputs turbines are more justifiable.

Trains are also more economical for passenger transport.  I'm not sure why we don't invest in them more


-Josh

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#3 2014-03-16 03:44:44

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,404
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Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

Perhaps because they aren't? Or rather, they only are if you're the only person in the car. They may require less fuel per person, but no-one really cares about that, they care about how much it costs them, and even with the high tax that's on fuel in the UK, if you've got more than yourself in a car it's cheaper to use the car than buy train tickets.


To secure a planet it is not necessary to colonise it in its entirety, only to secure the most valuable locations. The Lunar poles and Subterran point. Mercury's poles. The equatorial region of Ceres. Hold these, prevent access to their volatiles and anchor points for beanstalks, and independent colonies cease to be viable.

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#4 2014-03-23 14:40:13

Excelsior
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From: Excelsior, USA
Registered: 2014-02-22
Posts: 120

Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

I would love to see a vast expansion of domestic intermodal rail transport for cargo, if for no other reason than getting the bloody semi's off the freeways.

Passenger rail wouldn't work as well in this country simply because the odds of your final destination being within a practical range an urban rail hub is very small. If you've got to rent a car at the train station, there is no advantage to taking a train over flying, in fact, it's much slower even with the high speed rail systems so popular in geographically smaller countries.

An evacuated maglev network could change that equation considerably.


The Former Commodore

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#5 2014-03-26 09:19:47

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,701
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Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

Excelsior put his finger on acceptability of passenger rail in the US.  You have to drive to the departure terminal,  and pay to park your car there.  Then you have to rent another car to get where you are going at the other end.  In a big,  spread-out country like this,  that doesn't work for people.  Fix that,  and passenger rail becomes attractive. 

I put a suggestion for this up on http://exrocketman.blogspot.com as "Rethinking High Speed Rail to Make It Work",  dated 1-30-14.  You don't need really "high speed",  just faster than the interstate highways.  Do combined freight-passenger service,  and run it at about 100-120 mph on the tracks we have.  All you need to do that is good track maintenance.  Yes,  it can be done,  we already did it:  passenger service was typically 90-110 mph with steam a century ago in this country. 

Passenger service gets added by a dining/club car at the tail of the freight.  You drive to the station,  and onto a flat car to be chained down,  a flat car tagged for your destination.  You go wine/dine in the club car for the trip. Taking your car with you completely fixes the inconvenience problem,  and also gives trains a way to compete with air travel that the airlines cannot match.  You do the load and unload of automobiles at the station,  decoupled from the train.  That way the train stop is short,  and divorced from automobile load/unload operations. 

Doing it as mixed freight-passenger "hides" the cost of hauling the automobiles as a tiny trivial item amongst the mass of all the freight.  Trains already run 70-80 mph in Texas,  even freights,  and about 10 mph faster than that in Illinois (saw it riding Amtrak to Chicago a few years back).  In some states,  the maintenance is too poor to travel more than 20-30 mph.  Fix THAT,  and my out-of-the-box passenger service concept could be implemented far cheaper than anything I have ever heard proposed. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#6 2014-03-26 15:44:10

Tom Kalbfus
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Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

JoshNH4H wrote:

Well, I'm sold.  I should add that I only linked to someone's blog.  While I find the numbers believable they aren't authoritative.

Another benefit to trains is that their large size makes more efficient engines practical.  For example while a truck is only pulling that one trailer and so has a few hundred hp tops, a train can pull hundreds of cars and therefore needs to put out more power.  At higher power outputs turbines are more justifiable.

Trains are also more economical for passenger transport.  I'm not sure why we don't invest in them more

Are the high speed trains that China uses more economical?

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#7 2014-03-26 17:43:07

Excelsior
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From: Excelsior, USA
Registered: 2014-02-22
Posts: 120

Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

GW Johnson wrote:

Excelsior put his finger on acceptability of passenger rail in the US.  You have to drive to the departure terminal,  and pay to park your car there.  Then you have to rent another car to get where you are going at the other end.  In a big,  spread-out country like this,  that doesn't work for people.  Fix that,  and passenger rail becomes attractive. 

I put a suggestion for this up on http://exrocketman.blogspot.com as "Rethinking High Speed Rail to Make It Work",  dated 1-30-14.  You don't need really "high speed",  just faster than the interstate highways.  Do combined freight-passenger service,  and run it at about 100-120 mph on the tracks we have.  All you need to do that is good track maintenance.  Yes,  it can be done,  we already did it:  passenger service was typically 90-110 mph with steam a century ago in this country. 

Passenger service gets added by a dining/club car at the tail of the freight.  You drive to the station,  and onto a flat car to be chained down,  a flat car tagged for your destination.  You go wine/dine in the club car for the trip. Taking your car with you completely fixes the inconvenience problem,  and also gives trains a way to compete with air travel that the airlines cannot match.  You do the load and unload of automobiles at the station,  decoupled from the train.  That way the train stop is short,  and divorced from automobile load/unload operations. 

Doing it as mixed freight-passenger "hides" the cost of hauling the automobiles as a tiny trivial item amongst the mass of all the freight.  Trains already run 70-80 mph in Texas,  even freights,  and about 10 mph faster than that in Illinois (saw it riding Amtrak to Chicago a few years back).  In some states,  the maintenance is too poor to travel more than 20-30 mph.  Fix THAT,  and my out-of-the-box passenger service concept could be implemented far cheaper than anything I have ever heard proposed. 

GW

It's an interesting idea. The only issue I see is the lack of sufficient freight traffic to make it a viable commuting option. How often do we have mile plus long freight train going between major metro areas? And back again within short order?

Having recently completed a weeklong, solo, wintertime drive from upstate New York to Idaho, I find the thought of loading my truck unto a transporter and relaxing in the sleeper for a couple days intriguing. I think the key to increasing the use of passenger rail is in increasing its capability, including the transport of personal vehicles.

Edit: Amtrak does this on one route: Washington to Orlando.

During fiscal year 2011, the Auto Train carried over 250,000 passengers, a 6.4% increase over FY2010. The train had a total revenue of US$68,618,768 in FY2011, an increase of 12.5% over FY2010. The Auto Train had the highest revenue of any long-distance train in the Amtrak system.

Looking at the price of the Washington to Orlando run, and considering the stress, mileage on the vehicle, and the price of gas, if they offered this from Albany to Salt Lake City, I'd be on it in a New York minute. Updating the rolling stock and rails to the "high speed" caliber would be a bonus.

Last edited by Excelsior (2014-03-26 18:11:28)


The Former Commodore

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#8 2014-03-26 23:08:36

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
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Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

My grandparents took the auto train to get from New York to Florida several times and it sounded like they had a reasonably good experience, although they have since started flying while having their car shipped down.  I don't know what their reason for doing that is.


-Josh

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#9 2014-03-27 11:50:56

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,701
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Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

Multiple mile-long unit trains (coal and ag products) come through Central Texas every single day,  plus an Amtrak (the Chicago-Laredo route).  There's also more mixed freight than I have seen in prior years (a good thing,  considering how badly clogged I-35 is with big rig trucks:  the stretches near Waco are the most dangerous stretches of highway in the entire US). 

I suggest that freight traffic and pre-existing Amtrak justify the kind of service I propose,  even here in wide-open Texas.  More folks would ride that Amtrak if it were an auto train (like the NYC-Orlando train).  The tracks here in Texas as they are today are good for 80 mph at least.  That's the intercity speed of Amtrak right now through Texas.  The speed limit on I-35 is 75 mph outside the cities and far away from the DFW pollution nonattainment area,  where it is 65 mph. 

What is needed is merely to add an Amtrak option to the mixed freights and some of the unit trains,  an organizational/conceptual thing,  not a hardware acquisition or upgrade.  Flat cars already exist.  Auto carrier cars already exist.  Dining cars already exist.  The tracks are good enough in Texas to get started.  It's political preconceptions and dogmas that prevent doing what's smart. 

Track maintenance is not that big an investment to raise speeds to 100+ mph.  As I said above somewhere,  we used to go that fast with passenger service in the days of steam locomotives.  4-6-4 steamers on the New York Central line were pulling around 6-12 passenger cars at around 110 mph as early as 1900,  and as late as about 1950.  You can tell a real high-speed passenger steamer by the large-diameter drive wheels (72 inch and larger).  Freighters had smaller drive wheels (under 50 inches) and pulled much longer,  heavier trains.  Simple torque vs linear speed trade at constant rpm and steam piston speed. 

There's an old 1909-vintage steamer on the Texas State Railway tourist line that typically pulls at 30 mph.  Its speedometer reads to 120 mph.  The limit isn't the engine and its train,  it's the tourist-line track:  too distorted with age and wear,  not a smooth enough ride to be safe at high speeds.  I rode in its cab a few years ago.  Given some instruction in start-up and shutdown,  I think I could drive or fire it today. 

That's nostalgia talking.  We can do this with the existing diesel engines.  They're easier on the track.  Just stack up enough units to pull your mile-long freight at whatever speed you want.  Distributing engines through the train helps with derail resistance in turns.  Simple as that. 

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2014-03-27 11:57:47)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#10 2014-03-28 10:12:26

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,701
Website

Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

BTW,  sea transport costs can be greatly reduced,  by returning to a modernized form of sail propulsion.  The ship needs both sail and power,  but uses mostly sail at sea.  Power makes near-port and in-port maneuvers feasible. 

Steel tower masts,  simple reef-able fabric sails,  and mostly-automated machinery to manage them,  so that a small crew need not go aloft as in previous centuries.  Same basic idea of a semi-automated rig worked from the deck with a small crew worked just fine in the Dutch Fluytscip 500 years ago. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#11 2021-07-04 05:09:26

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 1,059

Re: Environmental initiatives for Earth

One current idea Converting non-recyclable waste plastics into clean fuels or industry product

news

How shipping ports are being reinvented for the green energy transition
https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/269 … transition
NASA Satellite Lets Scientists Track Ocean Microplastics From Space
https://scitechdaily.com/nasa-satellite … rom-space/

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