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Let's electrify GO ?!? Going green in public transit is a greenwash 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. Seems our system can't tell the difference between a lobbyist and an expert? With gentlemen like Rob Ford in charge we need them to make the wise decisions.
Recently, I saw a proposal to Electrify the corridor for GO Trains. Currently, they are run with diesel engines. In green Toronto, most folks are "hip to the scene" and see diesel as dirty — "Yucky" some might even say. Electric is cleaner.
The cost of third-rail electrification has huge upfront costs, a ~$10 Billion investment, but promises energy savings, thus future operation costs, and improvements in commute times. Compared to diesel it does seem third-rail has an advantage but is it the greenest choice for green rail?
What they do not tell you are the challenges with the operation of electrified tracks. I worked with an Amtrak designer, they spoke highly of the headaches from shopping carts breaking the electric connection from the train to track. They wasted lots of money in improvements, added safety, etc. The companies that performed maintenance cashed in on the taxpayer dime. Sure they have challenges, all design does but, I would rather focus on how “green” dedicated electrified rails are. Extra maintenance isn't green or cost effective.
What most forget about electricity is that there is typically a 30% loss in power in transmission. Let's quantify those carbon emissions! A majority of the corridor will be electrified by nuclear energy. Is nuclear energy as clean as they say it is?
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.
Plus, most of this "green-train-idea" would use Ontario dirty coal, or nuclear generation. Good thing we sold the nukes? When we move electricity from one place to another, there is a loss. Add up all the losses of the train combined with the losses from inefficient generation and the bill gets bigger. How much are we spending to reduce emissions? Is there a better design solution? I know there is, but seems private companies would rather work on ten billion dollar projects, not one billion dollar ones.
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 are searchable on Wikipedia. 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!