Why Petrolheads Should Be Thankful for Trains
The majority of everyone here, me included, probably holds the automobile as their favorite most cherished form of transport. However, in this post, I endeavor to explain why trains are something petrolheads should be thankful for, and why petrolheads should support train usage and the building up of the rail infrastructure and technology. While I’m not aiming to make you all ride the train, or become avid train watchers, I hope you viewers gain an appreciation for the role railed transport can play in bettering society, and even improving the driving experience.
Any citizen who lives in a densely populated area, especially a major city, knows that driving in heavy traffic can become the bain of any motorist’s existence. For a long time rail transport has aided in decongesting the streets through commuter trains, trams, monorails, and subways (all forms of rail transport). Even if many never ride the train, they still reap the benefits of having less traffic on the road and sidewalks. Cities which have employed rail services to alleviate traffic to great success include New York City, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris (I can personally attest that Paris has a great rail system as long as you don’t lose the ticket on the train), and more. Most major cities feature some form of rail travel and would be dysfunctional without it. Also, it’s helpful to note that the people taken off the roads were probably not the best drivers anyway, just a hunch.
If you have been on a US highway, you probably realize we have way too many Trucks on the road. This can become especially annoying for people who own small sports cars like a Miata, or just about anybody in a non-lifted vehicle. Trucks are a constant hazard on the road, especially considering the fact that drivers are often pushed to their limit due to a lack of proper sleep and high-stress levels. They also present an ever-present danger with their incredible mass and dangerously large blind spot. While getting hit by a train is way worse, it’s just way less likely to happen, and the train accident would in most cases be the motorist’s fault, while the truck could just hit you out of nowhere. While trucks need to be on our roads, putting more freight on trains turns out to be safer, more efficient, and even better for the environment. Nothing against truckers, but trains are just the better way to move materials long distances. In the US at least, the Freight train industry is booming, and the only thing holding back countries around the world is that most of their lines are dedicated to passenger travel. Hopefully, we can enjoy safer, less congested roads with the increasingly widespread adoption of train transport of materials and goods.
Turns out that rolling coal can actually be better for the environment when it comes to trains. Yes, I know that modern trains are either electric or diesel-electric, but even a steam train moves more stuff with less pollution than the same required amount of cars, or trucks. While we need trucks to get goods to more specific or remote locations and the same goes for passenger travel, using a train for even part of the process still helps massively reduce emissions. Electric trains produce zero emissions and transport lots of people or materials very quickly. Diesel Electric Trains (like a Fisker) also put out fewer emissions than the old steam trains and can carry a lot more material than trucks. According to a recent study by the AAC, railroads are 4 times more fuel efficient than trucking services and moving freight by rail instead of trucks reduces greenhouse emissions by 75 percent. The study even claims a 10 percent increase in freight moved by train instead of trucks would decrease greenhouse emissions by 17 million tons. I think it’s fair to say that beats forcing everyone to drive a Prius! Look at it this way, the more freight moved by train instead of trucks, the more project cars you can own without destroying the environment. How cool is that a green solution doesn’t rob us petrolheads of our individual rights! If we just make all these trains fully electric, move to the wind, solar, and nuclear power, and maybe make some trucks with famously high torque electric motors (Ludicrous Mode!) and I think we’ve just solved loads of problems right there and not had to institute some sort of Orwellian ban on gasoline powered automobiles.
To put the brakes on this blog post (train brakes, not Brembos, we still have a bit to go people), let’s just stop to appreciate the fact that trains are marvels of modern engineering just like automobiles. From efficient commuter trains to big brutish diesel-electric locomotives capable of moving a line of train cars more than a mile long, and most of all the speed demons from France to Japan, trains come in the same sort of variety and flavor as automobiles. There are even classics which you can find at museums, doing runs for tourists, or even still on the job in some third world countries. Bullet trains are even tested in wind tunnels just like supercars, and they have elaborate braking systems too. Maglev trains could also soon take over with their alternative to the metal on metal contact which us plebians are accustomed to, and will instead hover with the use of magnets to keep the train hovering, propel it, and keep it on track, even though it doesn’t touch the track. Trains and cars are different mechanically, but as machines, they bare a similar variety of characteristics. So as much as we love cars, I think it’s worth dedicating at least one post to our Train Throttle brethren because at the end of the day we’re not so different in our love of machines, are we? Remember to give a like if you “like trains!” #blogpost #trainthrottle