EWRspotter
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Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 3:20 am

The European continent has a very well developed rail system which many on both sides of the Atlantic tout as a model for other countries. Many consider trains a far superior form of transportation vs air travel.

However, in this atmospehere of increasing energy prices, I've never seen an analysis comparing the energy efficiency of these two methods of travel. Our metric would need to be energy per passenger, possibly measured in joules/passenger. As an example, I'd be interested in finding out which is more efficient:

* JFK-LAX on a fully loaded 752 (no cargo)
* NYC-Chicago-LA on a fully loaded Amtrack train (no cargo)

Has anyone seen such an analysis? Does anyone have any credible figures to contribute?

-Marc.
 
crewchief32
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 3:29 am

Very interesting theme, indeed, but even a train that would run on water could probably not attract as many passengers as a plane, especially not on such routes like JFK-LAX or Chicago-L.A., because it simply takes too much time. Or is there a route anywhere in the US where a AMTRAK train could travel as fast as the French TGV or the German ICE?

Just my 0.02cents,
CC32
 
aa737
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 3:41 am

This would be a very interesting topic of someone could gather data on it. Whether or not one is more efficient then the other in terms of power, on long legs like JFK-LAX the train takes too long. If they could build a high speed bullet train it would help get passengers out of the air, but that will be hard to do. I would guess on local fligts, such as LAX-SFO if there was a very high speed train it could be better then a plane. If you can skip the hassle of check in at an airport and ATC delays it could end up being faster.
 
EIPremier
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 4:09 am

Well, I think high-speed ground transportation is going to become a necessity in the US in the near future, and we might as well start the development process now.

E-commerce will help to reduce the amount of business travel to some extent, but leisure travel should continue to skyrocket. And, afterall, the population is growing too. We will still be in a situation where the demand at pace the system can't keep up with.

I agree that with current technology, high speed trains will only be practical on short routes, like Boston-New York-Washington DC (where there already is a viable alternative to air transport), and hopefully routes like LAX-LAS and LAX-SFO, perhaps DAL-HOU in the near future.

Certainly, electric or mag-lev trains can be more environmentally friendly, although that is not the same thing as energy efficient.
 
BostonBeau
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 7:22 am

I believe Amtrak actually carries slightly more passengers between NYP and WAS than the airlines do on the shuttles. I suspect that once the Acela service is fully running, that may happen on the BOS-NYP route too. I recall that a year or so ago, one of the "news magazine" shows (Dateline? 20/20?) did a comparison: they dispatched two reporters from headquarters in Manhattan...one via Amtrak...one via air...to see which would arrive at a given location in Washington first. As I recall, the two reporters arrived within a few minutes of each other.
 
Ikarus
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 7:35 am

Okay, just to give a German example (unfortunately not of the type you want):

Munich-Frankfurt on ICE:
trains leave every hour
up to 800 pax per train
faster than plane if taken city-centre to city-centre, slower if measured airport to airport

I'm quite sure if you measure just the energy of the journey, assuming a filled train, the train will come out on top. This neglects all the efforts of track building, and the fact that the trains will most likely be a lot less than 100% full.

For a plane you need two airports and fuel.
For a train you need two stations, 100s of miles of track and electricity lines and power plants.

I suppose as no real good-quality rail network exists in America, it is unlikely that one will ever be built. It's just too late.

Anyway, that's just my guess.

Regards

Ikarus
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:35 am

If maglevs become economically viable, it could have a very dramatic effect on flying here in the USA.

With speeds up to 500 km/h (310 mph), maglevs could supercede air travel on segments up to 600 miles in length.

These corridors could really benefit from high-speed maglevs:

Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia

San Francisco, California to San Diego, California

Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada

The Dallas/Fort Worth-Houston-San Antonio triangle in Texas

Chicago, Illinois to Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota via Milwaukee, Wisconson

Chicago, Illinois to Saint Louis, Missouri

Chicago, Illinois to Indianpolis, Indiana

Chicago, Illinois to Detroit, Michigan via Grand Rapid and Lansing in Michigan

Boston, Massachusetts-New York City, New York-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-Baltimore, Maryland-Washington, DC, the Northeast Corridor

Alanta, Georgia to Miami, Florida via Savannah, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida and Orlando, Florida.

Put in maglev lines on the corridors I've mentioned and you could eliminate many hundreds, if not thousands of flights from the USA.
 
CPDC10-30
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:43 am

Trains are more efficient by a wide margin. Not as fun though  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
ren41
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:46 am

The fast amtrak train is called the Acela it goes from Boston-NYC-DC. It goes Boston-NYC in under 3 hours\

Ren41
 
cba
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:48 am

About ten years ago in Texas, we were going to start electric high speed trains a lot like the TGV in France. There would be a network of high speed tracks connection most cities in Texas. However, the CEO of Southwest Airlines lobbied against it, and we never got it.
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:55 am

Cba,

Psst--Texas is not a small state (only Alaska is bigger). Even at 170 mph high-speed rail system isn't really going to help given that it would take over two hours to travel from Dallas to Houston.

Now, with maglevs, that's a very different story. At 310 mph, Dallas-Houston can be done in around 60 minutes or less.
 
BA
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:59 am

Train travel in Europe is amazing. Last summer I went on the French TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice on the French Riviera. The first 3/4 of the route took only 3 hours. After 3/4 of the ride was completed, the train had to slow down because the tracks became pretty windy, as it hugged the coast line. Also, the train started stopping in a few cities on the Riviera, so the whole trip took 7 hours. It was an AMAZNIG ride though. The train was perfectly silent, you would not hear a thing, SILENT! Also, you wouldn't feel a TINY bump. The train wouldn't sway to the side either. You feel a few bumps when the train is changing tracks, other than that, its as if the train isn't even moving.

If you get a chance to go to France, I HIGHLY recommend you hop on a TGV.

Back to the subject:
There is not much hope for train travel in the U.S. anymore. Its just too late. People have gotten used to there own cars now. If America started earlier in increasing train travel, like Europe did. Trains would have been successful here as well.

Oh well, we'll leave Europe to handle the trains. Whenever we feel we need to go on a train, we can just go to Europe.  Big grin

Kind regards.
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:05 pm

BA,

You're spoiled by the SNCF's superb TGV trains, perhaps the best high-speed train system in the world.

Nowadays, many TGV lines allow 300 km/h (186 mph) operation on many sections of rail--the fastest regular speed of any train, no contest. Not other steel-rail train comes close--not the German ICE's, and not the Japan Railways Shinkansen's.

By the way, you might want to know that SNCF is upgrading their line from Lyon to Marseille for faster operation, so it will cut over a hour off the Lyon-Marseille run.
 
BA
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:10 pm

 Smile

There really upgrading Lyon-Marseille? Thats great. Yes, after Lyon, the train started slowing down quite a bit. I think we were hitting 50-60MPH max. While before we were going 186MPH.

Don't forget, the TGV is capable of reaching 324MPH. However, its not allowed to go that speed while carrying passengers.
 Sad
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
CPDC10-30
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:17 pm

I took the Thalys TGV last month from Paris-Amsterdam and return, and it was great! The first part of the trip up to Brussels is nothing short of amazing, it feels exactly like being in a airliner about to take off at about 300 km/h. Also what surprised me was how smooth the ride was. In Canada, we have supposed "high speed" trains that run between Toronto and Montreal at a speed of about 160 km/h. However, you can barely stand up because it is shaking from side to side so badly. The French sure know how to make trains!
 
NUAir
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 5:57 pm

I have to say the TGV is very nice but does not go into Amsterdam central it changes over in Brussels (The Netherlands does not have the required tracks for high speed service. yet!!)

when you look at Aviation vs train travel I think the best example is the German ICE and LH. They are working to fully integrate train and plane travel with remote rail station check ins automatic baggage transfers and reserved seats. It saves the airlines money on shorter routes and makes life much more convienient for the average Joe living within 100km's of Frankfurt who doesn't want to park his car at the local airport for a few thousand dollars a week.

I think this would be a great example for the US rail system. And with the privatization of Amtrack why not sell seats to airlines to gain some more revenue and recognition. I have taken the Acela from Bos to NY and it was nice the article referred to before was from the Boston Globe where the two reporters ended up in Manhattan from Boston at close to the same time one taking the train and one took a USAir shuttle. But the line is still limited in Rhode Island and Conneticut by rail line restrictions on speed and shared track with cargo RR's. In the Midwest Tommy Thompson proposed high speed rail service from Chicago to Minneapolis via Milwaukee but it was never approved and since he lost the post to dept. of Trans. I doubt it will happen now. If Amtrack and/or other rail companies work together with the airlines I see no reason why a decent rail system that may even include high speed segments couldn't be done in the states. If done right it could even give some major airlines a cost advantage over no-frills carriers on short routes.

NUair

I ride Nederlandse Spoorwegen
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DatamanA340
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:14 pm

Easy problem. Fuel-economical airplanes like 340 consumes fuel like Taurus-sized cars, when we think 'by seats'. And train is far more economical than any kind of land transportations.

By the way, nowadays high speed train services are quite amazing. TGV runs by 300kph on high speed lanes and SNCF is upgrading it to 350kph. TGV-derivatives like Thalys, Eurostar and KTX (Korea) have at least same performance. And ICE by 250kph and Shinkansen by up to 275kph. (Hikari-ko between Tokyo and Osaka usually runs by 210kph.) ICE looks a little slow  Smile, but this velocity is available even on most of general lanes, which accodomates Intercities and Regionals as well as ICE. These services eliminated air services like Tokyo-Narita or Paris-Bruxelles. You can find air fare in Tokyo-Osaka route is much cheaper than Shinkansen fare easily.
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:26 pm

NUair,

Actually, I believe that some DB trains operating from FRA actually have a Lufthansa livery on the rail cars; these trains directly co-ordinate with LH flights from FRA.

It'll be interesting to see how SNCF is going to raise the speed of TGV to a maximum of 350 km/h. That is going to require a new wheel and suspension design for the railcars, that's to be sure.
 
NUAir
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:54 pm

RayChuang,

I don't know if you have been around FRA lately but I just came back from a road trip from FRA to AMS and along most of the route in Germany it looked like they were hard at work on a brand new double track. I know that they hope to connect AMS and FRA with high speed rail in 2005 but that will of course depend on the developments in the Netherlands and the willingness of the dutch rail authority to bypass Centraal station in favor of Schiphol.

I love the ICE and the crew could not be friendlier. I knew LH used to direct a few trains but I wasn't sure if they still did this. Thanks for the additional info. I hope one day we can see full integration of rail and air services.

NUair
"How Many Assholes we got on this ship?" - Lord Helmet
 
klik
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Mon Mar 19, 2001 11:59 pm

A few quick notes:
The Thalys train (linking France, Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordrhein-Westfalia part of Germany and Switzerland) DOES serve Amsterdam Centraal Station from Paris Gare du Nord, though after Brussels it slows down considerably, due to there not being an exclusive track for the train, and due to all the stops (Antwerp and Rotterdam). The Dutch high speed network is under construction, and will see improvements on all major lines; there's an Internet site specifically with the plans, though I currently can't find it.

Also, just like LH's deal with DeutscheBahn, many airlines have agreements with SNCF through CDG's TGV station; for example, AF will cease (summer 2001) flying CDG-BRU due to the speed and convenience of the Thalys, and many airlines issue tickets including SNCF connections from CDG.

Cheers,
klik
 
NUAir
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Tue Mar 20, 2001 12:10 am

I didn't say the Thalys doesn't serve Amsterdam I said the TGV doesn't. You make the transfer in Brussels. I should also add that some of the main supporters of increased rail traffic are the airports themselves who would like nothing better then to replace low revenue regional jet operations with heavy large jubos that pay much more to land. Plus in airports suffering from expansion restrictions such as AMS, FAG, and LHR, its very beneficial to work with state owned rail companies (or Virgin rail in England) to increase capacity and transfer pax.

NUair
"How Many Assholes we got on this ship?" - Lord Helmet
 
Early Air
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Tue Mar 20, 2001 12:45 am

The train uses less energy for sure when you go to per seat energy uses, however it will take you 4 days to so that trip, while on the plane it will take you just over 5 hours. Also, you do not get the thrill of flight on a train.

Rgds,
Early Air
 
FDXmech
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Tue Mar 20, 2001 2:57 am

I'm a big yet novice rail fan. But the probem I've read in rail magazines is that for the most part, passenger trains are not profitable (even in Europe so I've read).
You're only as good as your last departure.
 
CPDC10-30
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RE: NUair

Tue Mar 20, 2001 3:22 am

Sorry, NUair is wrong. There is no transfer in Brussel to Amsterdam, the Thalys goes all the way to Amsterdam. Here is the proof, my BF is standing in front of the train in Centraal station:



 Smile/happy/getting dizzy

 
Rafabozzolla
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Tue Mar 20, 2001 3:25 am

I've travelled from Paris Nord to Schiphol on the Thalys and you DO NOT have to transfer in Brussels. What happens is that half the cars and two of the four locomotives are disconected from the composition in Brussels to return to Paris.
 
sydneysider
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Tue Mar 20, 2001 4:48 am

Hi RayChuang,
maybe I can correct you a littlebit: 250kph was the speed of the ICEs of the first and second generation. At the moment the DB (German Railways) is introducing the ICE 3rd generation, travelling between 300 and 325kph. Of course, this speed can only be driven on the special tracks (like the TGV), which are (at March 01): Hannover-Wuerzburg, Hannover-Berlin, Mannheim-Stuttgart. At the moment under construction are: Nürnberg-Ingolstadt, Frankfurt-Cologne and Hamburg-Berlin. At these tracks, given of the hilly landscape in Germany, you´re only travelling on bridges or even through tunnels (everyone ever travelled an ICE on one of the mentioned tracks knows what I mean).
NUair,
on your roadtrip from AMS to FRA I suppose you´ve been driven on the A3 (Autobahn 3) between Cologne and Frankfurt, right? The track-to-be (finished in 2005) is the mentioned high-speed-track between FRA(city)-FRA(airport)-Cologne(airport)and Cologne(City). Travellingtime in 2005 ~60min city to city. With the opening of this track the DB is introducing the ICE 4 (also like the third generation with the nice round nose), speed up to 385kph in pax-service. Reason: the DB needs business-customers! Expect prices higher than the current ones.
I really like the TGV and the ICE, both are the most comortable trains in the world, especially the inseat-TV in the ICE is really good.
 
NUAir
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Tue Mar 20, 2001 5:52 pm

Nice picture of Centraal station!!

Sorry you were right my bad!! I thought you were referring to the SNCF TGV and I wasn't even aware that Thalys operated them since almost everyday on my commute back from work I never see a TGV in Thalys colors mostly other engines. But then again it probably isn't for the express service, or for some off peak departure.

To make sure your right (and just for fun) I will be taking the Thalys to Paris on Friday for the weekend. Is this service in cooperation with the SNCF?

I hope you enjoyed your stay in the Netherlands!

NUair
"How Many Assholes we got on this ship?" - Lord Helmet
 
EWRspotter
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Wed Mar 21, 2001 11:10 am

Whooooooa.... This thread really went into a tangent.

I'd like to refocus the discussion back to the original question with some new figures. There seems to be a common belief, articulated above by CPDC10-30, that trains are far more efficient in moving people. There is also a certain romantic attachment to trains that often clouds rational thought. Let's shatter some myths.

To be fair, we will compare technologies of the same generation (unveiled in the last 5 years). One metric we will look at carefully is weight per passenger:

Acela:
Configuration: 1 power car + 6 cars + 1 power car, 304 seats (260 Business, 44 First)
Weight / Seat: 1,900 kg/seat
Power / Seat: 30.3 kW/seat (are the units here really kW/h/seat??)
Source: http://www.trainweb.org/tgvpages/acela.html

TGV Duplex:
[included for reference]
Configuration: 1 power car + 8 trailers + 1 power car, 545 seats
Weight / Seat: 700 kg/seat
Power / Seat: 16.2 kW/seat
Source: http:

Boing 757-300
Configuration: 240 passengers, 12 premium 228 economy.
MTOW: ~120,000kg (note this is a MAX figure that would incl cargo - differences between engine vendors are negligable for this discussion)
Computed Weight / Seat: ~500 kg/seat
Power / Seat: ????
Source: http://www.airliners.net/info/stats.main?id=102

2001 Honda Accord
Configuration: 1 Captain, 1 FO, 2 passengers
Weight: ~1,400 kg
Weight / Seat: 700 kg/seat
Source: http://www.Honda.com

Now, to begin the Acela doesn't look very efficient compared to the TGV... and it looks pathetic compared to the 753. But the data are still incomplete. Can anyone contribute more figures? For a Boston-Washington run, can anyone figure out the power/seat ratio?

The argument will be made that the power requied to get the 753 from FL 0 to FL350 would negate the weight/seat benefits. I would submit to you that drag is the greatest waste of energy for both the plane and the train. Once the 753 gets to crusing altitude, its far superior aerodynamics and the thin air would boost its efficiency.

After completing all this work, I found this Boeing page that attempts to answer the question for us:
http://www.boeing.com/commercial/value/evmoreff_5.html. The data assume a ~500 mi run, similar to a Boston-Washington mission.

So, is the train REALLY more efficient "by a wide margin?" Does anyone have any more figures to contribute?

-Marc.
 
L-188
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Wed Mar 21, 2001 11:26 am

I just wouldn't want to be the deer, car or small child that train hits at 100 clicks a minute.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
Das Flugzeug
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Wed Mar 21, 2001 1:16 pm

EWR Spotter,

I think the big thing you're missing when looking at the mass/seat argument is that the 757-300 has to lift its seat up to 35k feet. Huge amounts of energy are poured into that effort. Also, I would imagine a 200mph TGV encounters significantly less drag than a 520mph plane. Do not forget that drag rises with the square of speed. Although I have no scientific evidence to prove it, I believe train is much more efficient than plane (as in energy burn, not time).
 
cba
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RayChuang

Wed Mar 21, 2001 1:24 pm

Texas was looking at French TGV's if I'm not mistaken. With the proper tracks, the TGV runs at speeds from 200-300 mph. They can't really go over 200 in France because not all of France has special TGV tracks. The special tracks run from Paris to Lyon to Valence, then the TGV has to do normal train speed from there south.
 
DatamanA340
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RE: Cba

Wed Mar 21, 2001 7:47 pm

There is no commercial train service that runs in 200mph. TGV is now only(?) 185mph, and expected to reach 200mph first. TGV track is widespread than you think: Paris Lyon - Lyon (TGV Southeastern), Paris Montparnasse - Bordeuax (TGV Atlantic), Paris Nord - Lille - Calais (Eurostar) and Lille - Bruxelles (Thalys) are the root routes, and several branches go to CDG and Euro Disneyland. 300kph, or 185mph is that I've taken in TGV Atlantic. It ran from Paris to Irun, the border station with Spain. Two thirds of the way is on TGV track until Bordeaux, but the rest segment of one third took time more than TGV tracks. (Paris-Bordeaux usually take 3 hours and Bordeaux-Irun is 4 hours and half.)

I think TGV has the best performance on flat terrains, while ICE is outstanding on hilly lanes. DB's intercity (not ICE!) often runs in 200kph!
 
Western727
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Wed Mar 21, 2001 11:34 pm

Without looking at any data, my first guess would be that trains are more effecient, especially in the frieght business. I would favor air transportation for people though (obviously). For one thing, the time involved. You can wait around for 2 weeks waiting for 30 tons of iron ore to get to you, but I doubt anyone wants to take two weeks to get from ORD to LAX.
Jack @ AUS
 
timz
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Thanks, EWRSpotter...

Thu Mar 22, 2001 10:20 am

...for trying valiantly to drag this thread back to the point.

That Boeing graph sure doesn't increase their credibility-- comparing a 27-mpg-on-the-highway car with two occupants to a 70%-full airliner. But if the car is 70%-full...

And despite Boeing's "Amtrak data", I'm still guessing the Acela/TGV will beat the Boeing on NY-Washington. Like EWRSpotter said, the train is heavier per seat than the plane, which means its efficiency nosedives when it makes many stops, or when it has to climb long grades. But "in the cruise" it's hard to beat, and the Acela will do a lot of cruising.

I vaguely recall that a Metroliner (7? Amfleet cars) will consume something like seven megawatt-hours from NY to Washington. So, if by chance that's true, I guess that corresponds to 4000-5000 lb of oil burnt at the power plant. Which is a lot less than the 300-400 seat airliner burns.
 
jonnyboy
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Thu Mar 22, 2001 10:39 am

I have an irrelevant fact to throw in...

The Paris-Lyon TGV route could carry twice as many passengers as the A6 (?) eight-lane highway which links the two.

It does it twice as fast. It does it much safer and it takes up a fraction of the land - which is really important if you are getting into environmental issues.

I have read that HST (High Speed Train) travel is optimal for between 100 and 500 miles. Below that, driving makes more sense and above that flying does. But in Europe, everywhere is 2 hours train from everywhere else. Land is too scarce for huge airports, the skies are crowded, and really the density requires efficient public transportation. In the US, only the NE corridor is dense enough to require such a development. Air travel over such short cramped distances is wasterful (but profitable)

Anyway, what we really need (and you can obtain them) are Joules per passenger per mile per hour. Honestly. Train would come out top. But at some point the 747s take over as gracious efficient global liners....aah
 
timz
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RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Fri Mar 23, 2001 11:12 am

SNCF considers that a 2+8 TGV (i.e. 8 passenger cars, 2 power cars) requires about 2 megawatts at the wheel rim to do 200 km/hr. (Yes, it can go faster, but let's say it's running in the US.) We convert that power to calories or BTUs per unit time, and guess that the power plant and transmission system are 25% efficient overall (correct that if it's way off), and suppose that the power plant burns oil, and we find that the TGV is "burning" something like 3-4 kg of oil per kilometer at 200 km/hr. No 400-seat airliner can match that fuel burn per kilometer. And I assume the TGV is roomier, too.

Cruise efficiency isn't the whole story, but still.

(Offhand guess: a lightweight 777-300 will burn 6? kg/km in the cruise. Correct that if it's wrong, too.)
 
Guest

RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Fri Mar 23, 2001 5:19 pm

I've done lots of jumpseating related to my ATC job and have, a few times, calculated fuel consumption and done comparisons between autos and typical 737 to 757 sized jets. I have consistently come up with numbers that surprisingly showed very comparable fuel efficiencies for an average loaded car vs. an average loaded jet. Thus, I find the Boeing chart indicating comparabiity between 2pax in a car and a 70%full jet very valid and believable.

As for trains, the Boeing chart seems surprising with its implication of lower efficiency using Amtrak data. BUT, just as the auto comparison surprised me, so too might rail data. Considering the large weights of trains, plus lots of drag and rail friction, might the kinetic energy of a train (per passenger) be roughly equivalent to the potential energy of a cruise-altitude air carrier (also per passenger)? Timz has some interesting consumption data that, if verfied and worked out, could easily yield a relative cost factor. We must have some pilots here who can tell us how many thousand pounds of fuel they routinely consume on routes equal to DCA to NYC, for X passengers...

One last point has only been hinted at: safety. Derailments and fatal collisions with vehicles and pedestrians happen with amazingly high frequency. They have to be factored in after the energy cost comparison to ensure a full and fair comparison of the two modes.
 
Tan Flyr
Posts: 1567
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:07 pm

RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Fri Mar 23, 2001 11:32 pm

There is a very low friction rate between a steel rail and a wheel of the truck of the railcar.the actual contact surfact is just about the size of a quarter. this is why many heavy bulk items go by rail.

once a train is moving level gound it takes comparativly little energy to keep it roling.

however, as for passenger trains, except for certain corridors(NE, The San Joaquins, and a few others) the train is not cost effective. Amtrack loses up to $400.00 per pasenger on many trains as stated in a recent "trains" magazine article. The government has given them until 2002 to become break-even. Don't bet on it.
 
Red Panda
Posts: 1433
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2000 12:58 pm

RE: Depends

Sat Mar 24, 2001 1:03 am

If sth. is light in weight, small in size, valuable and needed to be moved for a long distance, a/c is the most economic efficient. I would not say it is fuel efficient since all companies measure things in economic sense.

bascially:
a/c : light stuff, med/long distance
train : heavy stuff, short/ med dist'
ship : heavy stuff, med/ long dist'
truck : light/ med stuff, short to med dist'

It also depends on how much you are shipping. If you need to move a lot, it's better to use train than trucks for heavy/med weighted stuff for medium distance.

There are graphs for this too. The Y axis is the cost of shipment and X axis would be the distance needed to travel. There should be four lines (with negative slope) on the graph.

Hope this help
r panda
 
Guest

RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Sat Mar 24, 2001 4:14 pm

Tanflyr: can you quantify any of that? E.g., how much energy does that train consume to offset drag and friction at "cruise" speed, at what speed and what mass? And, do you have comparable figures for a typical jet plane?

I would expect minimal friction between metal rails and rolling metal wheels, but the reference to this friction has more to do with the dissipation of energy during braking than a "drag" effect. It takes lots of energy to bring a heavy object up to a speed, or to bring an aircraft up to an altitude. And, all that train's kinetic energy is lost when it brakes to a stop, just as a plane's potential energy is wasted in its final descent. My question is, when given the figures (typical mass, speed, and altitude for say a 737 DCA-JFK, and typical mass and speed of various "efficient" trains), how do PE and KE compare? And, how do the energy consumptions compare during cruise for both options? Do we have an engineer out there with a good foundation in physics, willing to crunch these numbers?
 
jfidler
Posts: 359
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2000 3:32 pm

RE: Plane Vs Train: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Sun Mar 25, 2001 1:51 am

The U.S. is too big for train service to be viable in all except certain markets (the Northeast DC-Philly-NYC-Boston corridor being one). And as someone else mentioned, Amtrak is having serious financial problems.

But as someone who travels from DC-NYC frequently, I always fly because it's faster. Here's a breakdown (I live in NW DC):

Plane:
drive to downtown DC parking garage: 15 mins
Subway to DCA: 20 mins
book/wait for flight (there is a flight every 30 mins): max 30 mins
fly: 1 hour (45 min flight + taxi time)
taxi to downtown Manhattan: 30 mins

So that's 2:35, maximum, if I show up at the airport and just miss the plane so I have to wait 30 mins for the next one.

Train:
drive to downtown DC parking garage: 15 mins
Subway to Union station: 15 mins
book/wait for train (train every 60 mins): max 1 hour
train trip: 3 hours
taxi to downtown Manhattan: 5 mins

So that's 4:35, maximum. On the DC-NYC route, the Acela train can't get up to max speed (it can on NYC-Boston), so the time savings between Acela and a normal train is minimal.

Justin
 
Das Flugzeug
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 1999 1:17 pm

Interesting Study

Thu Apr 05, 2001 12:01 am

Check out this website (maybe someone can make it an active link).

www.vr-transport.de/transrapid-energy/n003.html#hd4

Looks like rail is significantly more efficient than flight. I was somewhat surprised that the ICE3 is more efficient than the Transrapid, although the arguments make sense. I would have thought the Transrapid saved significant energy due to its lower mass (the engine is in the tracks, also it doesn't need wheels, brakes, etc.)