High-Speed Rail News #36: Germans Reuse Rail Energy & News from Hs2 UK

Virgin pendo exterior scenic traveling through the British country side.
Virgin Pendo exterior scenic traveling through the British countryside.

Train travel offers countless benefits for travelers and even for the environment. Generally, when there are plans to add in a new train line somewhere, everyone is pretty excited about it. But there are two sides to every story and where there are pro’s there are at least one or two con’s, and some of those con’s have been getting a little extra spotlight recently. While engineers continue to improve the existing railway lines that already make our lives much easier and our trips more enjoyable, they are now also taking a closer look at the way these trains affect the towns and environments through which they pass. In these articles, Germany and Mexico demonstrate the obvious benefits of rail development while England takes a step back to debate the bigger picture.

Germany is Transforming the Kinetic Energy that is Normally Lost During Train Travel

Train travel is already the most environmentally sound means of long-distance travel, beating out planes and automobiles by a long shot. However, as Germany is showing us, there is always room for improvement – and often the answer is an almost ridiculously simple one. German engineers at MTU Friedrichshafen have found that they can transform the kinetic energy that’s normally lost when the train is braking and store that energy as electricity in a battery. The train will be a hybrid vehicle, it can operate using either the diesel engine, the battery, or a combination of both. Sometimes the easiest answers are right under our noses.

Mexico is Restoring Passenger Rail Service

Here’s a part of the world that doesn’t get much attention as far as railway news goes. One thing that does come up often in discussions about Mexican transportation is the growing vehicle traffic and pollution in the country, particularly in Mexico City. Buses and automobiles are the main form of transportation between and within the crowded cities. In an effort to remedy the growing congestion, President Enrique Pena Nieto has announced plans to restore passenger rail service in Mexico. The two major routes to be affected are Mexico City to Queretaro and Merida to Punta Venada, which will target businessmen and tourists alike. It’s refreshing to see developments in train travel in areas of the world other than Europe, the United States, and Asia, and it will be interesting to see if the developments increase in regularity from here.

England is Working on a Faster Connection Between London and Birmingham

Train travel is generally so efficient and enjoyable that it’s become rare to focus on any of its potential downsides. We often center in on all of the positive ways that trains take us from point A to point B, but a certain railway plan in England is showing us that we cannot forget about the people and places that are affected by railway construction between those two points. The new HS2 train track would span the lakes at Swillington Farm, continuing on from a recently planned track that will provide a faster connection between London and Birmingham. It will be running within hundreds of yards of farmland and schools, and as the project’s completion date is estimated at 2026 at the earliest, the construction will be affecting these areas for a long time. While I think we can all agree that train travel is one of the most efficient means of transport, I think we can also agree that a continuing effort to improve the means by which people and towns are affected is as essential and inevitable as the effort to improve the trains and railway routes themselves.

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