Out with the old, in with the... older?
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19-11-2012, 04:09 AM
Out with the old, in with the... older?
Just thinking, as I usually do, and have been thinking about something for a while.
Currently domestic travel is dominated by flight. If you live in NY and you wanna go to LA, you're gonna fly.
Even in a small country like New Zealand if I wanna get from my current city to my parents home the quickest way is to fly (an hour and a half compared to 7hours via motorbike.).
Even the train is not very fast (about 5 or 6 hours).

However the huge draw back with flight is that is it expensive. Airplanes are very expensive to operate and costs are not coming down any time soon.
The problem also lays that there really is no alternative to jet power. It's either jet power or propeller and propeller is limited. And the problem with this is that jets are very very thirsty.

So, where does in with the old come in to all this?
IMO, trains are the way of the future. Not just for passenger travel but more so for freight. I think we do not rely on trains enough. The reason I say this is because trains can in theory be entirely 100% green mode of transport WHILE traveling at very fast speeds (300mph+). They can 100% green in the sense that they are run on electricity which can be produced 100% from renewable sources.
Trains can also carry alot more cargo as well as a lot more passengers as aircraft.

Imagine this; High speed intercity train travel. 100% powered by renewable energy (geothermal, solar, hydro, whatever). No waiting times, no bag checks, no creepy guy waving his magic wand in your special areas.
You can have all the luxuries of flight, food, tv etc.. (though I don't think they provide that domestic, I dunno never flown domestic). More leg room, more comfortable seats.
Not only would it be a far cheaper mode of transport but also in some cases quicker.
It would be far less dependent on fuel prices (and if renewable energy, it wouldn't be dependent at all on any fossil fuel, aka no rising prices).

Trains are also, IMO, the answer to freight.
Currently, here anyway, the majority of goods are transported by truck (or lorry or whatever you people call them, 10-12 wheelers). This is hugely inefficient. Trucks consume a lot of diesel, are very pollutant, destroy the roads (seriously, they do a lot of damage to roads, thus why they pay road user charges) and get in everyone else's way (slowly traffic, causing congestion etc..).
Trains on the other hand are far more efficient (and that's diesel engines, let a lot electricity). They can pull very large amounts of goods and not only that but at a far quicker rate then trucks.

I don't really know where I'm going with this thread btw, just spouting thoughts.

What I'm saying needs to happen is this:
1) a far more efficient, renewable energy grid needs to be established.
Less reliance on coal/oil/etc.. and more reliance on hydro/geothermal/wind/solar. Fossil fuels should be supplementary to places that cannot facilitate renewable sources.
2) High speed passenger trains (electric, off this new renewable power grid) need to be rolled out for inter-city travel.
Flight, like fossil fuels to power, should be used more as a supplementary. So perhaps NY to LA would still and likely always will be best done via flight. But rail should primarily be the first option for passengers. The primary way to achieve this would be costs v time. So a flight might be say 5hours where as a train might be 7, but the train costs 1/10th the flight (rough example).
3) Inter-city freight should be done via train.
Trucks, again, used as more supplementary mode of transporting goods. Trucks would obviously still be key in getting goods from the depo to where ever they need to be, but that would be done in the city rather then from city to city.
And don't give me this "but the trainyards will get to crammed with goods", if cargo ships can carry and offload 5,000 containers, a train can carry and offload 30.

Plus, trains are awesome.


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Out with the old, in with the... older? - earmuffs - 19-11-2012 04:09 AM
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