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Trains Need Greening Too: Amtrak to Add New Efficient Locomotives

Siemens will build 70 Cities Sprinters as part of US rail service upgrade program

1 min read
Trains Need Greening Too: Amtrak to Add New Efficient Locomotives

Amtrak has agreed to buy 70 electric locomotives from Siemens as part of an ambitious $11 billion, 14-year plan to upgrade its rail service. The trains, called Cities Sprinters, will drastically upgrade the energy efficiency of their predecessors.

Among the energy-saving features on the Siemens design - which will be based on the Euro Sprinter design (pictured) - is regenerative braking.

“This isn’t your grandfather’s locomotive,” said Oliver Hauck, president of  Siemens Industry’s Mobility Division, in a press release. “Not only will we use renewable energy to build them, the locomotives will also include energy efficient features, such as regenerative braking that can feed up to 100 percent of the energy generated during braking back to the power grid."

Moreover, the $466 million contract with Siemens will be filled largely by manufacturing at a Sacramento plant powered (mostly) by solar energy. So if anyone starts doing lifecycle emissions calculations for these trains, that will help as well. (The project will also create more than 200 jobs, mostly in California).

I'm an unabashed trains lover, but I'm the first to admit they're far from perfect when it comes to energy use and efficiency. So it's nice to see Amtrak, in spite of seemingly constant financial problems, following through on promises to upgrade its fleet.

(Image via Siemens)

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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