Electrification evaluation expands
The Railway Age has an interesting examination of negotiations between the US railroads and power companies. The idea is the the railway right of way would be used for transmission lines in return for electrification and low cost power for trains. This is tied to the idea that if there is to be a high speed passenger network then it would have to be electrified. The new power lines will be needed to connect new power sources such as wind farms to the grid. But freight trains could also be hauled by electric locomotives. Indeed the story is illustrated by the image of a Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railway electric loco hauling a coal train (“Little Joe”). BC also had it own electric freight railway to haul coal to the coast from Tumbler Ridge – and one of the most inexplicable decisions surrounding the sale of BC Rail was the scrapped that system and its locos (except one pictured below preserved at Prince George).
North American freight trains are mostly hauled by diesel electric locomotives – and one of the ideas floated in this story is that of dual power locos: the same electric motors could be powered by the on board diesel or the overhead wire. This would also, by the way, capture the energy used to brake trains – currently dissipated as heat – by using the same motors as generators with power being fed back into the system. SkyTrain and the trolleybuses already do this.
“A version of the latter, the ALP-45DP, is currently being built for New Jersey Transit and Montreal’s AMT by Bombardier. Such a locomotive would give a Class I the flexibility of operating trains in electrified and non-electrified territory without changing power.”
The railways identified as most interested are BNSF (who have a line into Vancouver) and Norfolk Southern. Notable by their absence – CN and CP.
Post updated from comment June 12, 2009