Monday, June 15, 2009

New Tech & Electrification

If you were a city, would you want to be the first to implement an unproven technology whether it's hydrogen streetcars or super fast charging streetcars? I know that makes it tough for innovation but it seems like a lot of risks and on a political level it means career death if the program crashes. That being said, there are lots of interesting ideas out there that might deserve a look. In addition to the two above, the inductive motor looks interesting as well.

One thing though, I really really don't get the hate of overhead wires. They have been proven since 1888 and create no point source emissions. Get over your personal aesthetic people. If you were so concerned with wires, you should also be concerned with that smog stuff as well. As I've said before, it may look bad to you, but my lungs don't care.

On a similar note, some Railroads are considering electrification as well as allowing corridors to be used for wind power transmission. This idea has been around for a while and I'm glad they are finally catching on.


Stan said...

There is risk to the new and untried. But you forget the risk of investing in planning and permitting projects spending 4.5 to 6 million dollars PER MILE of track in a 120-year-old technology that could be proven obsolete before the shovel hits the dirt. Bombardier, Alstom, Kawasaki and Shanghai transit (among others) have recently introduced wireless streetcars. It's not us bloggers and readers who are balking at overhead wires; it's the public who's being asked to bet on them and live with the amortization consequenses who are saying whoa!

arcady said...

The written word is an ancient technology, it will soon be replaced by video! The wheel is an ancient technology, it will soon be replaced by flying!

Adam said...

The electrification of mainline railways is different from that of streetcars. It essentially requires catenary because they don't make contactless regional trains yet.

Like I said, electrification of mainline railroads is VERY important. I know of numerous instances where people will drive to a park and ride at the end of electric territory rather than board a train in diesel territory so they can get their one seat rides. I've read or heard that people will drive to places such as Ronkonkoma, Croton-Harmon, and Montclair State University (which are all the last stations on certain electric lines where service further out is all diesel).

Matt Fisher said...

I can't bear the thought of smog, and I don't understand this s**t about overhead wires. No s**t, Sherlock.

Arcady: Here's a response I've got:
Rail is an ancient 19th century technology, it will soon be replaced by flying cars running on [insert "magic wand" fuel here]!
(Just like in The Jetsons.)

The Magic Trolley said...

It's a little known fact, but real trolleys are, in fact, powered by a magic wand. It's a really big one, so big that they have to stick it up on the roof. And trolleybuses are twice as magical because they have two!

Anonymous said...

Overhead wire 6M per mile? you're kidding.

Bob Davis said...

My take on the "surface mounted induction" system is that it's quite a bit more expensive than trolley wire. If we go back in history, New York, Washington DC, and (I think) London used a "conduit system" that looked a lot like a cable car line, but had electric contact strips inside the slot instead of wire rope. Where a cable car had a "grip", the conduit powered streetcar had a "plow". This was an expensive and cumbersome system that had all sorts of inherent troubles, but it worked in DC until 1962.
To point up its shortcomings, the lines that left DC and went into the suburbs switched to overhead at the District boundary.
The surface induction system eliminates the slot, but how about energy losses in the air gap between the inductors and the pickups on the cars? I haven't studied the system in detail, but if something fails, how big a job is it to replace an inductor unit? How expensive are the cars compared to conventional overhead DC powered units?

Adirondacker said...

so they can get their one seat rides.

It's not so much one seat rides but reliable fast rides.