Monday, April 26, 2010

Ton-Miles/Gallon Again!

Port Townsend, today. Once again, a flurry of activity on the 'net asking why automobiles don't get the fantastic mileage of today's "modern locomotive." Because folks are not listening carefully, the Norfolk Southern commercials sound like they are bragging about their freight trains averaging 400+ miles per gallon.

Of course they are not. They are citing a common measurement used when comparing modes of transportation - motor truck, barge, train - the "ton-miles per gallon."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, locomotives simply are not rated in terms of "miles per gallon," no more than your skate board or Schwinn mountain bike. Once you can accept the fact that not everything on wheels has a corresponding "EPA rating," you will be free of conflict!

But. If you insist on applying some notion of "miles per gallon" for a locomotive, I have the pablum you crave; today's featured graphic!

While researching "ton/miles per train/hour" for an upcoming article, I ran across a US Government site with the tabular information that I glued together to create the accompanying graphic.

Somebody stashed away in the bowels of the US Department of Transportation managed to grind out the "miles per gallon" number you aficionados of mindless trivia love to collect.

As you can clearly see, with all the fancy do-dads and integrated microchip wiz-bang computer technology high adhesion self-steering trucks and creep control that puts the "ka-ching!" in the cost of today's locomotive, they still average in the area of .13 miles per gallon, as compared to the family bus still averaging 9.58 miles per gallon!

You will find this, and a lot more totally useful information at the Research & Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) web site.

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