Monday, November 15, 2010

Electrify GO?

Lets Electrify GO!?

Going green in public transit is a dirty game. With so many politicians getting their “information” from "experts", some information is good and some is bad. This information results in the extraction of your tax dollars.

With gentlemen like Rob Ford, in charge, we need them to make the wise decisions. ( this sentence added on January 20, 2011 ).

Recently, I saw a proposal to Electrify the corridor for the GO Trains. Currently, they are run with diesels. In the greeniness Toronto ( analogous to truthiness ), many folks are "hip to the scene" and see diesels as "dirty". "Yucky" some might even say. Electric is cleaner. Right?

The cost of electrification is huge upfront ( $10 Billion est.), but, "promises savings" in "future operation costs" and "improvements in commute times".

What they do not tell you are the challenges with the operation of electrified tracks ( once worked with an Amtrak dude with a headache from shopping carts breaking the electric connection from train to track ). Sure they have challenges, all things do but, I would rather focus on how “green” dedicated electrified rails are.

What most people forget about electricity is that there is typically a 30% loss in power in transmission. Lets quantify those as carbon emmi$ions.

So for efficiency, starting at 70% is an estimate. Transmitting power also requires lots of materials, safety design and plenty of maintenance to “light up” the third electrified rail, that does not even include the "installation fees". This loss of efficiency, plus the capital costs and maintenance add up fastest for the taxpayer. Imagine the construction-delay mitigation costs in Toronto. Can I invest in that for my RRSP?

Plus, most of this "green-train-idea" would use Ontario dirty coal and NG generation. Good thing we sold the nukes? When we move electricity from one place to another, there is a loss. Add up all the loses of the train combined with the losses from inefficient generation and the bill gets bigger.

There is such a thing as a clean diesel hybrid ( I think I have seen it in cars ). Canada had a company: Railpower Technologies. Of course it was gobbled up by a US company. What they do with the technology, I have not followed for many years. Clean technology that the Canadian taxpayer funded and then sold to a foreign company ( don't get me started ). The benefits of the system is searchable in wiki. What I am getting at is that the technology exists for a greener solution than electrifying rails.

I am sure that the "GO folks" know about this stuff, not my point, but we should be critical of these infrastructure proposals and pick the greenest solution. Don't get me started on the corruption involved with a $10 Billion dollar budget (it smells like $20 Billion already).

Solution: A clean-diesel electric hybrid car that runs on the existing rails. Simple. I am sure Bombardier could whip one up in short order. Might just create some more Canadian jobs!

Hey! That is something I could design for Toronto! With help from a few friends of course!


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