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Trains March 2021

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United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
from the editor

jwrinn@kalmbach.com @TrainsMagazine @trains_magazine The Powder River Basin coal fields on Wyoming’s windswept plains have been the epicenter for the industry’s traffic boom for two generations. It will be a traffic source for years to come, but as Bill Stephens points out in his report (page 10), the Powder River Basin’s luster is significantly diminished. In the next installment of our “Coal Isn’t Dead” series, we visit the region that has been a source of pride and problems for BNSF Railway and Union Pacific. Since the 1970s, the issue was how to move all of the Powder River Basin coal trains, and now the crisis is where to store all of the unused hoppers and what to do with the extra track. It’s a complicated chain of events and you can place your bets…

2 min.
seeking the best of new technology

TWO CLASS I RAILROADS were among the investors in the latest round of funding for one of the startup companies that is developing self-driving trucks. Technology publication Tech-Crunch reported that Union Pacific and Canadian National participated in a $350 million round of funding for TuSimple. CN declined to comment, but UP confirms its investment. “Union Pacific makes small strategic investments from time to time in businesses or technologies that we believe could benefit our business,” spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza says. “In that context, we did take a small stake in TuSimple’s latest funding round. Because these small investments are strategic, we typically don’t discuss them in public.” Why would railroads partner with companies developing technology that would significantly reduce the cost of trucking and, by some estimates, threaten up to a third of…

3 min.
canadian pacific plans hydrogen locomotive

HE SEARCH IS ON for a green, operationally feasible, and cost-effective successor to the diesel-electric freight locomotive. Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, under investor pressure to reduce and ultimately eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, are exploring alternatives to the diesel. CP said in December it would develop North America’s first road locomotive powered by hydrogen. CP will retrofit a locomotive with hydrogen fuel cells and batteries to drive the unit’s traction motors, then test the prototype to evaluate the technology. “This is a globally significant project that positions CP at the leading edge of decarbonizing the freight transportation sector,” CEO Keith Creel says. The railway did not provide a timeline, and details were sparse, but the announcement came two days after the Canadian government released a report touting hydrogen power as a way to…

1 min.
california system to debut u.s. hydrogen passenger equipment in 2024

AS CP DEVELOPS A HYDROGEN FREIGHT LOCOMOTIVE, the fuel-cell technology is powering some passenger trains in Europe and elsewhere (see page 6). And its U.S. passenger debut is on the way. In November 2019, Swiss manufacturer Stadler announced a deal with the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority to build a two-car trainset for use on a line to connect Redlands, Calif., to the Metrolink commuter rail network in San Bernardino. The contract includes an option for four more trainsets for the 9-mile, five-station line, scheduled to open in 2022. Stadler will also provide conventional diesel multiple-unit equipment for the service.…

1 min.
battery power makes inroads in europe

IN GERMANY, where the world’s first hydrogen-powered train entered service in 2018, the new technology has not resulted in large contracts for new trains. Battery-powered trains are making greater inroads. Almost every European country has signed up to remove diesel-powered trains by 2050 to lower carbon emissions. Some are aiming to do this much sooner, using either battery or hydrogen power where additional electrification is too expensive. French-based Alstom developed the iLINT hydrogen-powered train, which debuted in Germany in 2018. It has sold 41 two-car units to two German commuter-rail operators, with another contract for a service near Berlin as of 2023. The hydrogen-powered trains use fuel cells to create power to accelerate, but also have a battery pack charged by excess power from the fuel cells, and by regenerative electrical braking. The…

1 min.
cumbres & toltec plans first oil-fired locomotive

The CUMBRES & TOLTEC SCENIC RAILROAD announced plans to convert K-36 2-8-2 No. 489 to oil firing, a break from its history of coal-fired engines that will give the railroad greater flexibility to operate in high fire-danger conditions. The conversion, to be done for the 2021 season, follows a similar move by the DURANGO & SILVERTON NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD, which completed one oil-burner early in 2020 and began work on a second. TRAINS: David Lassen The FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION issued an updated brake rule it says will save railroads from 110,000 brake inspections a year by increasing the time trains can be left “off air” (stopped with the air-brake system depressurized). The new rules mirror those in Canada, where trains can be left off-air as long as 24 hours. The ASSOCIATION…