Saturday, May 2, 2009

Electric Trains

Port Townsend, today. As predictable as the swallows returning to Capistrano, the yammer about BNSF electrifying certain traffic corridors has returned:

Converting the freight rail system to electric trains from today’s all-diesel operations might seem like a far-off notion, but BNSF Railway's Matthew K. Rose is starting to explore this new frontier.

If his ideas pan out, BNSF’s still-early planning efforts could help produce historic change for North American freight railroads.

Rose, BNSF’s chairman, president and CEO, told The Journal of Commerce his company is in talks with electrical power line builders about stringing or burying transmission lines in some of BNSF’s inter-city rail corridors.

With those line-easement leases emerging as a possible new revenue source, BNSF officials are also weighing how to electrify the carrier’s mainline track system and asking equipment makers about locomotives that could run both under electric or diesel power.

The true student of catenary systems will doubtlessly argue that construction costs would be astronomical, and take years in the planning and execution.

I for one will not be around to see it happen, so I'll be content to relish my memories of Americas one and only true electric train ...

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