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For Midwesterners, more boxcars mean cleaner air (trains -vs- trucks)

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:09 PM
Original message
For Midwesterners, more boxcars mean cleaner air (trains -vs- trucks)
http://www.news.wisc.edu/20116

For Midwesterners, more boxcars mean cleaner air

Dec. 8, 2011

by Chris Barncard

Shifting a fraction of truck-borne freight onto trains would have an outsized impact on air quality in the Midwest, according to researchers at the University of WisconsinMadison.

Much of that impact boils down to simple efficiency, according to Erica Bickford, a graduate student in UWMadison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. For each ton they carry, long-distance trucks go about 150 miles on a gallon of diesel fuel. Trains can move a ton more than 400 miles per gallon.

Shifting from road to rail 500 million tons of the freight passing through or to the Midwest would make a large dent in the carbon dioxide spilled into the air by the movement of goods.

"There's a 31 percent decrease in carbon dioxide produced by freight shipping in the region, and that's straight from emissions," says Bickford, who made a model of freight traffic in 10 Midwestern states from Kansas to Ohio that she will present today in San Francisco at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. "It's 21 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of what's produced by about 4 million cars."

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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:32 PM
Response to Original message
1. Moving that same ton by barge would be even cleaner. Why don't we build more rivers?
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. (Theyre called canals)
Actually, I cant find it now, but if I recall correctly the newest freight trains are actually more efficient than barges
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I really doubt that. My point was that you can not just pick a transportation mode in ISOLATION.
Sailing craft might be the most carbon efficient but not always available.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Yes, I understood your point
Regarding the rail travel efficiency, I was quite surprised when I saw it.
http://www.csx.com/index.cfm/about-csx/projects-and-partnerships/fuel-efficiency/

Fuel Efficiency

Moving freight by rail is 3 times more fuel efficient than moving freight on the highway. Trains can move a ton of freight nearly 500 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Efficient use of fuel means fewer greenhouse gas emissions for our planet.

Fuel efficiency for trains is measured in terms of ton-miles, because the length and weight of trains varies greatly. We are constantly working to improve our efficiency. In 2009, CSX trains averaged 468 miles per gallon per ton. (Learn more at the American Association of Railroads website, http://www.aar.org )



According to (http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=5330&type=0) the efficiency of inland barges is (990 BTUs per ton-mile or 140 ton-miles per gallon on average)

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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:49 PM
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3. Same type of benefits could be realized with high speed rail
Moving people and things in bulk is cheaper and better for the environment.
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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 03:43 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Absolutely...
Really fast freight could travel on HSR tracks and cut way back on shipping by plane and overnight trucking.

Once the tracks are in place there's no reason freight shipments couldn't fit between passenger train usage.

Lots of freight could move at night when passenger use would be low. Really important 'get there quick' freight could pay an extra fee and ride on passenger trains.
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Ernesto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 02:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. I have read that big coal's silent partner is the rail road corps.........
Edited on Fri Dec-09-11 03:06 PM by Ernesto
It seems that most of their freight traffic is COAL and very lucrative.
Pick your poison!

BTW>>>> http://www.joc.com/class-i-railroads/rail-stocks-fall-after-two-coal-firms-cut-outlook
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 03:20 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Iron ore is the big product in NE MN. It goes to boats and across
the great lakes into the mills. I think we now may have several mini mills up in this area.
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donco Donating Member (717 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
8. Not many business
anymore that have rail siding.

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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Don't need them...
We need one siding within the range of electric trucks. Move goods from door to siding by short range truck in containers and do the long haul with trains (or barges), then distribute locally with electricity.

We probably need some sort of a mini-container system so that a business could pack into a smaller container than what is now available. Stack 'em, rack 'em on a container rail car and unpack them at the destination.

Getting long haul trucks off our highways would greatly decrease highway maintenance costs and reduce our need to build more lanes.
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donco Donating Member (717 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Sounds good
if you can also get the coal fired electric fired plants replace with...??.
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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Replace coal plants?
Wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, and biomass/gas generation replace coal. We need some storage and load-shifting along with the CO2 generation.

We're using natural gas to shut down coal plants at the moment. Not a great solution, but it's a step in the right direction.

We don't need coal. We've got the technology in hand which can replace 100% of coal power. And if we do so we will save ourselves money. Coal has very large hidden costs that we pay with our tax dollars and when we pay our health insurance premiums.



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donco Donating Member (717 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Hopefully something can get done to replace coal with
Edited on Sat Dec-10-11 04:02 PM by donco
I dont think it can ever be cleaned up enough to be a viable alternative.

Im a retired teamster and have some experience with natural gas powered trucks. Consolidated Freightways, what at that time(70,s) was the largest motor carrier in the country tried them out.

We had a fuel tank almost as big as a two car garage and everyday at least two city trucks strandeda friggen disaster. It was a noble experiment during the oil crisis of the 70,s but a dispatchers nightmare.Hopefully we can come up with something better for intercity pick up and delivery fifty years later.

Heres a youtube of the demise of CFthey spun off Conway years agoso now its called Conway=nonunion.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxhPJGU6c2Y



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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Electric trucks...
You might enjoy checking what is available now...

http://www.pluginamerica.org/vehicle-tracker?make=All&drivetrain=All&class=commercial&charger=All&cvrp=All&availability=Available

And think about a tractor which gets used to haul containers to and from the siding all day long. They would be an idea choice for swapable battery packs. Just set up a swap/charge point close to the siding. With a backup set or two you could swap batteries and run 24 hours a day.

And here's an article about companies that are now starting to use EVs in their delivery fleets...

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan2011/tc20110120_063762.htm

Now, can we get coal off our grids? Sure. Maybe not overnight, but we've already moved coal from well above 50% of our total electricity production to just under 45%. We've scheduled a bunch of coal plant closures over the next few years.

If for no other reasons coal will go because plants eventually wear out and it is already cheaper to use renewables and natural gas/storage than to build new coal capacity. Add to that that fuel prices are going to rise. We've burned much of the high quality coal and are having to haul an burn larger amounts of poorer quality coal to get same output. And while fuel costs are rising the price of wind and solar is falling.

Economics are driving the transition away from coal.






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4dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
12. I guess this doesn't take into account those rail cars are filled with Chinese crap
and thus there's no real reduction in [email protected] gasses except perhaps in the Midwest. Not to mention, many of these rail cars are filled with dirty coal from the west.
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