Efforts in Europe to encourage rail travel over other modes

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 2:44 PM

It could well be that the federal government profited by the exchange of land for transportation of military personnel, especially during wartime. I do not rememer seeing anything about such transportation during WW I, but such was serious business during WW II and after the war. I do not doubt that the Pullman company received remuneration for the use of its cars, but certainly the Pullman porters and Pullman conductors were paid *the sleeping cars and staff were provied by Pullman).

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 3:44 PM

York1

Thanks for the correction.  Sorry about that.  I should have done some research before posting.

 

Hey, no problem.  As I said, it's a common misconception.

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Posted by n012944 on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 11:48 AM

54light15

The terms "flying shame" and "train pride" can only lead to good things. Sleeping cars making a comeback in Europe is one example. Increased taxes on short flights, lower taxes on rail tickets. It all seems good to me. 

 

 

Would you be in favor of "rail shame" for short corridors outside of the Northeast?

 

https://www.metro-magazine.com/zero-emissions/news/736155/flixbus-tests-long-range-100-battery-electric-mci-coach

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Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 6:41 PM

According to the EPA, transportation accounts for 29 percent of greenhouse emissions, followed by electric generation 28 percent, industry 22 percent, commercial and residential 12 percent and agriculture 9 percent.

The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans.  They account for more than half of the emissions.  The other transport sources include trucks, commercial aircraft, ships, boats, and trains, as well as pipelines and lubricants.

In 2017 aircraft contributed 9 percent of the greenhouse emissions attributable to transportation.  Light duty vehicles – cars, SUVs, and trucks – were responsible for 59 percent, followed by medium and heavy-duty trucks 23 percent, rail 2 percent, ships and boats 3 percent, and other 4 percent.

Encouraging people to take the train as opposed to the plane probably would have a marginal impact on the country’s air quality.  Planes are easy transport targets.  The biggies are personal vehicles, especially SUVs and trucks.  Go after them and the pushback probably would be severe.  

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 7:09 PM

JPS1
Encouraging people to take the train as opposed to the plane probably would have a marginal impact on the country’s air quality ... Go after them and the pushback probably would be severe.

But no one in this thread is saying "encourage" means "through coercive means" (which is what 'Go after them' in a way creating pushback implies).  In essence the two 'halves' of the statement don't match.  But it's interesting to consider how the response to incentives might actually be implemented.

To the extent Amtrak regional (or other rail services) can replace private automobile use with rail travel -- and I specifically include the portion of Auto-Train service where the car sits and the train carries its mass for a great saving in 'opportunity carbon' -- it can help.  The net saving won't of course be the difference between "59%" and "2%" but it would help.

I'm not in favor of this neoeuropean idea of 'shaming' people into climate awareness, but I do think that social pressure or even 'social norms' according with some carbon-reduction narrative are applicable means, and that rewarding people for having taken 'carbon-reductive' steps even if presently slight can be a commendable thing.  The difference is positive vs. negative incentive.  We as a nation have slipped far too far down the slope into involuntary coercion when it comes to perceived 'social good', and I don't think it has done our national character any particular good.  

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Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 7:16 PM

[quote user="Overmod"] JPS1 Encouraging people to take the train as opposed to the plane probably would have a marginal impact on the country’s air quality ... Go after them and the pushback probably would be severe.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 7:58 PM

JPS1
If the government imposes a tax on choice A but not on choice B, you can say it is to encourage.

To me that isn't to 'encourage' choice B, except circumstantially; it's to discourage choice A.

Now, having said that, if we assume the 'rightness' of a tax that applies in both case A and case B, it would be an incentive to provide some kind of tax relief for B, and call it 'encouragement' with a straight face.  That for example has been done both for renewable energy and for BEVs; I'd like to see the idea much more expanded (in part, to come to subsidize hybrids like the Karma and not just pure BEVs, as well as things like the class 4 vans for Amazon).

From my perspective it is a penalty, which carries a bit more clout than "to encourage".

Imposing any kind of tax, or more restrictive conditions on use, is still a form of coercion rather than encouragement or incentive.  There is no doubt that it is easier to impose (particularly if relatively few motivated voters 'care' about what is being taxed so their 'tax cuts' might be facilitated) and that it's more of a sock in the ol' wallet where so many folks keep their effective conscience.

One of the things I was attempting to show is that aviation is not a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions ...

Except that it is, both on an absolute and on a per-seat basis; that's a large part of the reason for flight-shaming in the first place.  That it is a relatively small part of overall high emissions doesn't mean that its marginal emissions are either low or relatively negligible.

I'd like to see OTR trucking broken out of that nominal 59%, given an equivalent ton-mile figure, and then compared to the 2% given for rail.  While they're at it, they could provide an effective 'overall percentage' of the increased carbon generation made through those relatively-worthless-at-reducing-actually-dangerous-PM EGR and DPF traps that have to be regularly actively regenerated to get rid of the "soot".

... But it is a easy target because it does not impact most people in a way that they would feel immediately.

There is a comparable metric for "well-to-wheel" HSR that doesn't seem to get mentioned very often.  True high-speed trains have a relatively high tare weight per passenger, even when built to rather iffy 'margins of safety'; their power draw when used as expected is relatively high compared to road vehicles at 'normal' cruise; unless loaded to a high fraction of capacity in all segments, they have the same problems as a standardized fleet of heavy buses does in off-peak service.  There's also the cost of building and then maintaining the high-speed "LGV" to support the air-competitive operation.  In the absence of what is effectively a heavy government subsidy of the 'costs', the carbon economy of fast rail over commercial aviation may not be superior to the 'best' current alternatives in the air.

However, even the more efficient geared-fan high-bypass turbine engines still suffer from many of the fundamental Brayton-cycle drawbacks when not operated under most-efficient conditions.  I think most aircraft can be demonstrated to have higher emissions per passenger than a contemporary private-car economy, even before we get into network service issues.  

I agree completely that 'carbon demonization' of commercial aviation as a whole is more than a little specious.  That may not be well-received in a railroad forum, but I think it does need to be affirmed as you've said.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Sunday, November 3, 2019 9:43 AM

Overmod

 To the extent Amtrak regional (or other rail services) can replace private automobile use with rail travel -- and I specifically include the portion of Auto-Train service where the car sits and the train carries its mass for a great saving in 'opportunity carbon' -- it can help.  The net saving won't of course be the difference between "59%" and "2%" but it would help.

Everyone here has seen GATX stenciled on the side of tank cars, and GATX has prospered and profited from the domestic oil boom. 

There was a time when GATX had higher-tech ambitions and was pursuing a concept for a high-speed electric-powered ultra wide-gauge automobile ferry they called RRollway (get it, the double "R" denotes railroad).  It was the brainchild of Romanian immigrant Deodat Clejan as a follow-on to his freight intermodal Clejan piggyback, which I believe was a "circus loading" system where the truck tractor had some appliance for raising the trailer hitches from the cab.

My dad worked with Clejan, and I remember it as if it were yesterday when Dad walked into the kitchen and told the family that his colleague had perished in a small-plane accident.  Dad continued the project and patented different variants -- side-loading but with a lower center-of-gravity to allow use of standard gauge track although requiring the much wider loading gauge, a concept much closer to the drive-on double-deck ferry used in the Channel Tunnel but involving the car body pivoting to mate with an end-loading ramp, something reminiscent of the Flexi-van turntable.  Some of Dad's notes on the project are remain in a garage, subject to the effects of the squirrels attracted by the walnut trees he had planted, including research into the length of 1960s-era automobiles to establish the required width of the side-loading RRollway.

I was perhaps more interested in the concept since Dad "moved on" from it after GATX lost interest, and I still have the HO model I built of a double-deck end-loading car ferry.  I once showed it to a friend at work who pointed out my concept was utterly impractical because it only allowed exit from a car on the driver side on the upper deck, on the passenger side on the lower deck -- it had to do with the staggered stacking of decks to meet the height limit of a Superliner or a gallery car.  RRollway also made a similar assumption based on the preponderance of 1960's cars having bench seats (except for Frank Bullitt's Mustang) you could slide across.

In my college days I had access to the Northwestern University Transportation Center Library that had the USDOT report on a New York-Florida car ferry.  The Northeast Corridor Demonstration Project was supposed to have three components as part of a revitalization of passenger rail, the first being a high-speed electric MU car between New York and DC that became the Metroliner, a turbine-powered lightweight train to tilt through the twisties of the New Haven Shore Line between NY and Boston that became the TurboTrain, and a double-deck end-loading car ferry between NY and Florida that was never built. 

That car ferry was supposed to be one where passengers occupied their own cars except when they stepped out to get a snack in a lounge car or use the rest room, much like what RRollway envisioned.  The double-deck end-loading car was also supposed to be excess height like a double stack, so it didn't need the clumsy staggering of decks as in my Plate C-conformant design.

The Auto Train that was put into service by a private venture and later taken over by Amtrak when the private venture ran out of money gave up on having passengers ride in their own cars.  Before someone starts with "why do you want to be cooped up in your car when you could ride in a roomier coach seat (the original Auto Train started coach-only)", there is the tradeoff that you have some more privacy in your own car as a riding comparment.  The advantage of the Auto Train concept is that the ride-in-your-car auto ferry car didn't exist whereas the Auto Train company snagged surplus full-domes (from GN?) along with the enclosed CN passenger auto-ferry boxcars.  There is less risk having valet parking for the tight squeeze and parking accuracy needed to load the cars rather than allowing passengers to have a go of it.  Before you dismiss the ride-in mode out-of-hand, I believe the Channel Tunnel offers just such a thing.

RRollway was a 1960s thing and was never about energy savings or CO2 reduction.  Remember the SST was a concept in the 1960s.  RRollway was about high-speed, random access to the drive-on drive-off at intermediate stops from the sideways carriage of the automobiles, electric power to perhaps reduce dependance on oil, and highway congestion relief.

My generational interest was always in saving on oil, which is roughly in line with reducing CO2.  The oil savings, however, seemed to require the rather wasteful 1960s car rather than more modern cars, where even many compact SUV models get better gas mileage.  The train probably offers air drag savings over the individual cars, but this too assumes better streamlining of the train cars than current US practice.  The train adds some percentage of weight in piggyback or container freight intermodal, but it adds multiples of the weight for this type of passenger intermodal.  I think there could be some saving for an Auto Train service on a coastal route, but any kind of mountain grades, forget out it!

 

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, November 3, 2019 9:51 AM

How long a ride on a ferry from NYC to Florida?  The Chunnel train is a short ride, as I recall. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, November 3, 2019 10:40 AM

I hadn't thought about RRollway for decades.  And it was one of my earliest 'projects' when I started thinking about advertising in Trains for 'backers' in consulting...

At the time there were European proposals, involving shorter and smaller European-size cars, for running substantial effective traffic through some of the long Alpine railroad tunnels instead of building expensive expressways.  One that caught my attention was a bit like a transverse Iron Highway: the vehicles were run on 'in parallel' and anchored, then run off and spread out slightly for 'boarding' at the other end.  Drivers rode in an attached coach, not in their cars (for a variety of rather unsurprising reasons!) and would have access to the usual sorts of amenity for a trip of the 'corresponding' length.  Like the other 'auto-ferry' projects (one of which as I recall used a plethora of 16" wheels in its trucks!) this was to operate as nearly continuously as possible.

What I realized relatively early was that, to get the necessary lateral spacing between cars to make this work, the vehicles would have to be loaded nearly door-to-door, precluding access to the interiors in transit.  That in turn meant that whatever tie-down method was used couldn't directly involve the usual sort of parking brake or transmission pawl used to 'park' a car.  As I recall, what was proposed was sequential loading, with the hostler or driver of each car exiting before the next one drove up effectively blocking the driver's door.  That can be pretty quick if you do it as a kind of LeMans start in reverse with multiple driver 'attendants' staging the cars at wider spacing for drivers to get into and drive away as at any valet facility.  That would work with RRollway as well.

What I proposed for quicker action (at that time) was a set of 'stingers', similar to what's used at older drive-through car washes, which would take a set of cars pre-staged in parallel, and 'converge' them onto the train (where they would be locked down, if necessary with assistance from equipment operating in a 'pit' underneath).  At the opposite end, a similar arrangement would engage them and pull them out for 'access' -- the next instalment of cars being ready on the other side for gang-loading with equivalent speed.

Those were the days when cars might easily weigh over 3 tons plus loading, and occupy more than 19' of lateral space when properly 'balanced' around the train's midline.  So the thing would occupy enough width that the 'case for the double-track train' was an attractive thing to contemplate ... and the availability of surplus double-track ROW in the immediate pre-Staggers years offered some possibilities for more full 'conversion' to working very wide equipment in practice.

Something like this becomes much more practicable, both in size and operation, with the advent of autonomous vehicles.  So I'd check out the stuff in that collection and drive off any stray squirrels you encounter...

 

It might be added that many discussions of the 'Cars Of The Future' in the now-vanished early Sixties were building on the 'Turnpike Cruiser' kind of idea -- they would involve automatic driving, seats that could 'turn' to make a kind of living room arrangement, on-board cooking and refrigerated storage, little potties under the seats ... stuff, in other words, that would make long journeys without having to stop the car possible.  It is not too far a step from there to making a car (it might have to be 'van-size' but we actually went there in the '70s) that functions like roomettes.  And such a thing would, technically, be suitable for a fast-ferry operation, particularly if you could get into and out of your car for 'socializing', taking showers, etc. but otherwise occupy it as an RV of sorts.

The idea of doing a trip of any particular length sitting in a normal automobile inside some sort of autorack, presumably having to have driven through several such rack cars without damage, with the prospect of driving through some more to get off, with almost no lateral room to get out and very little protection if you did,  is almost painful to contemplate ... although not nearly as painful as the idea of having to market such a turkey idea to actual prospective customers.

Or industrial insurers.

And this leaves out questions of practical braking of long consists of rack cars... like the ones that, proximately speaking, bankrupted the original Auto-Train company.  Now imagine the racks involved there had contained passengers!

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Posted by rdamon on Sunday, November 3, 2019 3:32 PM

What about something for OTR trucks?  load circus wagon style onto flatcars, plug into a 'shore' power connection, climb into the sleeper and wake up in California..

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, November 3, 2019 4:03 PM

rdamon
What about something for OTR trucks?  load circus wagon style onto flatcars, plug into a 'shore' power connection, climb into the sleeper and wake up in California...

It's a good thought.  I proposed it a long time ago as a kind of 'Auto-Train' alternative, with a couple of coaches in the consist with various kinds of stores and supply, and the ability to contract 'riding mechanics' to perform some kinds of work on the trucks enroute.  There were perceived problems with 'other than owner-operators' being compensated for riding time/mileage, and the opportunity cost both in space and weight to bring the tractors along.  There was, and to an extent still is, the issue of having motor-carrier licenses for the state(s) to be served at the remote end, although we got agreements in principle that states would not request licensing for 'live trips' crossing their borders entirely intermodally.

At the time, the shore-power requirements were fairly onerous; they are far less so now.  An interesting possibility is that Amtrak is starting to sell off some of its P42s; you may remember the UPS higher-speed Z train experiments with Genesis power a while back.  This would inherently supply adequate power for both driver's shore power and any controlled-atmosphere requirement for trailer loads. 

An interesting question arises whether a given 'sailing' could be arranged via PSR, with some of the tractors only needing to arrive at the yard close to departure time and doing other work in the meantime while leaving the scheduled 'loads' parked or yarded at the intermodal facility.

I assumed then, and still do, that any interested state would have a mobile inspection facility at the departure gate of the intermodal facility for weighing or tech inspections as appropriate.  That would now include a mobile bridge for wireless/RFID scanning.

You may be amused to know that I thought about how to load tractors as well as trailers on lightweight FuelFoiler style skeleton underframes with pockets, in part to get them 'low enough' to traverse the Hudson River tunnels without fouling the catenary and hence bridge the whole New York metropolitan area hassle silently and quickly.  There are modern ways to accomplish some of this with well cars, although it's much more sensible to consider carrying any tractors 'separate' as loading and unloading the trailers is tricky without using an overhead-gantry-type lift.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Sunday, November 3, 2019 5:03 PM

"The idea of doing a trip of any particular length sitting in a normal automobile inside some sort of autorack"

 

My dad's boss at GATX related that two of the engineers working on RRollway indeed rode in an automobile on an autorack, and the story of was that one of them got serious motion sickness.

On the other hand, some on this Forum had related people who had a need to travel cross country without showing ID or having enough money to pay a fare, perhaps people who had recently crossed the US border without a visa in search of work, avail themselves of automobiles in automobile carriers (uncovered autoracks are so last century).  Supposing that these cars are transported unlocked with the keys in the ignition, or maybe there is an easy way to defeat the locks and gain entry as I don't have a direct source of this information, a person has a private travelling compartment along with heat or A/C upon starting the motor.  It was suggested that many a car transported by rail arrives at its destination with an empty gas tank from this practice.

So I "get" why riding in your own car in an autorack is problematic, but all of the occupy-your-own-car concepts have walkway access to the cars so its occupants can get up, stretch their legs, and walk to a restroom or a snack bar.  What is most problematic is that the autocarrier needs to be heated/air conditioned space, with at least the ventilation standards of a public garage, and it needs passenger-car quality ride along with meeting the buff standards for passenger car safety, making it much more expensive and heavier than an autorack or more modern car carrier.

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 1:26 PM

York1
Do you mean those folks who flew in 1,500 private jet flights to the Davos summit to discuss climate change?

Ehhh, wait until you see the transportation plan to Milwaukee from Chicago for the DNC Convention (he-he-he) or I should say wait until it hits FOX News. Cool

 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 5:27 PM

Did any of you ever ride Alaska RR's ferry train from Portage to Whittier. This thread reminded me of it. That was a drive on to the side of a flat car, drive forward to the spot behind the last car. One stays in the vehicle while the train takes you through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel (2.5 mile long) and into Whittier (Total of 12.1 miles). Then follow the vehicle in front of you to the the front flat car and exit off the side of the car to the ramp. The trip was about 30 min plus load & unload time and we were on a flat car behind a tour bus. We were in class C motor home and we then took the MH onto the Alaska Marine Highways ferry to go to Valdez. At the time, there was no road to Whittier. Now the RR tunnel has been paved and vehicles can drive through it in batches like when they single lane a highway bridge with traffic lights. Freight trains still operate through the tunnel.

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Posted by 54light15 on Thursday, November 7, 2019 9:32 AM

In northwest Germany there is a train that you load your car onto a flatcar and it takes you to the island of Sylt. I've seen pictures of the train (in the 1960s) with people standing next to thier cars while the train is moving. I kind of doubt that doing that would be allowed now. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, November 7, 2019 12:03 PM

54light15

In northwest Germany there is a train that you load your car onto a flatcar and it takes you to the island of Sylt. I've seen pictures of the train (in the 1960s) with people standing next to thier cars while the train is moving. I kind of doubt that doing that would be allowed now. 

 

Two services:

https://www.autozug-sylt.de/de/preise/

You sit in your vehicle for the 35-minute journey.

 

https://www.syltshuttle.de/syltshuttle-de/start/fahrplaene/aktuelle-verkehrslage-2049356

DB Sylt Shuttle service takes 46 minutes, also in vehicle.

 

There are other Auto Zug services to other destinations where you ride in separate coaches in a couchette or sleeper:   

https://www.autoreisezug-planer.de/motorail-services-in-germany 

 

 

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Posted by York1 on Thursday, November 7, 2019 12:50 PM

Electroliner 1935
Did any of you ever ride Alaska RR's ferry train from Portage to Whittier. This thread reminded me of it. That was a drive on to the side of a flat car, drive forward to the spot behind the last car. One stays in the vehicle while the train takes you through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel (2.5 mile long) and into Whittier (Total of 12.1 miles).

 

I rode a tour bus on this same route.  It was a little nerve-wracking sitting on the bus while it slowly maneuvered onto the flat car.

I believe I remember reading somewhere that you are now allowed to drive the tunnel.

I know that there used to be a train through Copper Canyon, Mexico, on which you could park your camper on a flat car and ride through the canyon.  I saw a picture of people on lawn chairs by their camper riding the train.  I understand this is no longer available.

 

Good video of Copper Canyon trip:

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, November 7, 2019 1:32 PM

Yes, York 1, you arenow able to drive through the tunnel.

I don't remember just when, but I have a seen and heard a vdeo of a car trip through the tunnel. There was music playing, and I thought that Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" should have been played.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, November 7, 2019 5:38 PM

York1
I know that there used to be a train through Copper Canyon, Mexico, on which you could park your camper on a flat car and ride through the canyon.  I saw a picture of people on lawn chairs by their camper riding the train.  I understand this is no longer available.  

Thanks York1 for your post. My wife & I took a tour on the Cooper Canyon train back in the 90's and it was wonderful. And on that trip we passed the train carrying the motor homes with the people riding on the flat cars. We did not have dome cars, but did have a dining car with good food. Train had security guards and our tour guide took us up to the locomotive cab (four at a time) while the train was rolling. Had a little angst stepping from the front coach onto the locomotive. Safety rules were not tight back then. Only time my wife rode in a cab of an operating train. 

 

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