Posts Tagged ‘trains’

All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said.

“Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon. …

“We in fact reached our goal a year earlier than planned,” said Boon, adding that an increase in the number of wind farms across the country and off the coast of the Netherlands had helped NS achieve its aim.

“[Dutch electricity company Eneco] and NS said on a joint website that around 600,000 passengers daily are ‘the first in the world’ to travel thanks to wind energy. NS operates about 5,500 train trips a day.

“One windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, the companies said. They hope to reduce the energy used per passenger by a further 35% by 2020 compared with 2005.” More at the Guardian, here.

Meanwhile in London, researchers are looking into solar-powered trains.

As Michael Holder said in BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network, “Imperial College London has partnered with the climate change charity 10:10 to investigate the use of track-side solar panels to power trains. …

“The renewable traction power project will see university researchers look at connecting solar panels directly to the lines that provide power to trains, a move that would bypass the electricity grid in order to more efficiently manage power demand from trains.” More.

I wonder what sounds solar- and wind-powered trains make. Can we still say choo-choo-choo and whoo-oo-OO with our grandchildren? And who will update Thomas the Train?

Photo: Geography Photos/UIG via Getty Images
Intercity train arriving at Leiden Central railway station, Netherlands.

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Well, here’s a new concept in energy production: braking regeneration.

Diane Cardwell writes at the NY Times, “Along Philadelphia’s busy Market-Frankford subway line, the trains behave like those of any transit system, slowing to halt at the platforms and picking up passengers.

“But more is happening than meets the eye. In an experimental system that is soon to be more widely adopted, every time the trains pull into certain stations, they recover the kinetic energy as they brake and channel it as electricity to battery banks at one of two substations.

“The batteries, managed by software, can then use that power to push the trains back out or to help modulate electricity flows on the grid.

“The system is unusual because the batteries are being used for more than just powering the trains, said Gary Fromer, senior vice president for distributed energy at Constellation, the power provider that will own and operate the system for the transportation authority.

“The electricity savings alone do not justify the battery costs, he said, so it was important to find another source of revenue, which comes from selling energy services to the grid. …

” ‘We don’t have to front the money and we’re reaping both savings and actually money coming back our way,’ said Jeffrey D. Knueppel, general manager of the transportation authority. The base technology of the system, known as regenerative braking, was one of the breakthroughs that allowed for the development of hybrid and electric cars like the Prius.” More here.

This reminds me of my 2012 post on inmates in Brazil who bike to create electricity — and reduce their sentences. And this post from 2013 about lighting schools by playing soccer. All hail to human ingenuity!

Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
The Market-Frankford subway line in Philadelphia is part of a regenerative braking experiment.

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The last time I looked, Travelers Aid helped people in train stations and bus stations who were lost or confused or needed a translator. The website still notes that history.

“Travelers Aid Family Services began in 1916 as an all-volunteer effort, one of hundreds of organizations that emerged around the country in response to the needs of the thousands of new immigrants arriving in the United States each day. The agency, which was incorporated in 1920 as the Travelers Aid Society of Boston, provided help with housing, transportation, and employment to new immigrants, stranded travelers, and the poor at Boston’s train stations and docks.”

I wish when I directed a stranded Amtrak passenger to the Travelers Aid office office this morning that today it has the deeper purpose of ending homelessness. Oops.

The traveler was a pleasant if anxious man in his 40s who had come up from Virginia to meet a flight his 14-year-old daughter was taking from Greece. Not knowing our wily ways up north, he gave money to another train passenger who asked for $10. After he got off the train, he realized his wallet was gone.

Amtrak police were surly and told him to go a Boston Police station to file a report — but didn’t tell him how to get there. He wandered around for a couple hours. Then he stopped me and asked where the police station was.

I am pretty wary of these hard-luck travel stories. People of all ages make them up on the subway (one woman has a different story every day about why she doesn’t have the fare for Fitchburg or Worcester), but the traveler was only asking for directions to a police station that I didn’t know how to find.

So I sent him to Travelers Aid across from South Station. At least there will be kind people there, right? Even if he isn’t homeless and doesn’t fit their new mission? I sure hope so. if you know anything about Travelers Aid today, please tell me.

Photograph: Travelers Aid Family Services

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A building gets wrapped with a bow, friends volunteer to hammer in some color along Greenway walks, South Station digs out its toy trains (display by these folks).

We don’t have snow, but we’re pretty festive anyway.

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