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Breaking 361mph: Train Technology

Photo by mkimberl liceneced under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike

It is thought that within the next couple of years Sweden will see the reality of its high speed 'Green train or Gröna Tåget' hit the tracks. Sweden is famous for its ethos of green living so it is unsurprising to hear that they could be the first to showcase the new green train travel.

Sweden's rail sector is already streets ahead of other countries in terms of its sustainable development - the country's rail network has been using renewable electricity to power its trains since 1994 and it hasn't stopped there as it then set about electrifying lines that weren't previously, thus extending the network.

  • Future plans mean that within the next few years Sweden could see trains that can have the same environmental impact of a single airline flight but instead doing 15,000 journeys.
  • The Green Train will be developed to reduce travelling time and create trains that can travel up to 300 kilometers per hour using existing tracks.
  • The new trains will aim to reduce energy consumption by a further 25-30% on existing models which are already more energy efficient than other countries.

Train dining car

Photo by JIP | Talk liceneced under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike

Customer Focussed

The beauty of the whole project is that the rail consumer is at the heart of what the country is trying to achieve. Sweden does not aim to reduce its carbon footprint for accolades and titles it does it with its residents in mind and ultimately for their wellbeing. As a result the plans for the Green Train are very customer focused and concentrate on their needs first and foremost.

  • Swedish passengers now rank environmentally friendliness as number one in terms of reasons why they choose greener train providers.
  • With the Green Train it is thought that through the savings made in energy, train services will be quicker and more frequent and train fares will be lower as a result.
  • In terms of design the Green Train adopts areas that not only maximize space and therefore passenger capacity they also consider the uses of trains and incorporate desks for work space and more social areas for customers to relax.
  • Sweden’s rail sector is unique in the way it combines environmentally friendly travel with ways of engaging customer interest in green issues.

Green freight trains too

Not only does Sweden want to provide environmentally friendly passenger trains, but the same principle also applies to its freight trains.

Rail freight provider Green Cargo has taken measures to reduce the fuel consumption of its train fleet and to make them as carbon neutral as possible.

This means that in Sweden the supply chain is as green as it can be setting an example to other countries around the world that it is an achievable objective.

  • 92% of Green Cargo's freight is carried on electric trains, 3% is diesel and only 5% is carried by lorries freeing up the road infrastructure as well as reducing the impact on the environment.
  • Green Cargo often receives interest from other rail providers in other countries as far as Russia to see how they too can become greener in their operations.

Photo by Green Lane liceneced under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike

Japan's MagLev Trains

Around twelve months ago the government in Japan gave permission to Japan's Central Railway to begin construction work on their 'MagLev' train line. The magnetically levitated train line will run between Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

Although much further away in reality the trains are expected to reach speeds in excess of 500 kilometers per hour. The MagLev trains won't start to carry passengers though until 2027 between Tokyo and Nagoya and 2045 between Tokyo and Osaka.

  • The development of magnetically levitated trains has been in the planning since the 1970s and the construction project itself has estimated costs of around nine million yen.
  • The MagLev trains will be the world's fastest trains and as the name suggests they run without touching the ground. The trains are levitated using repulsive and attractive electromagnetic forces between magnets on the train and on the ground.
  • Specific speeds that the MagLev trains can achieve are 505 kilometers per hour between Tokyo and Nagoya in a journey time of 40 minutes. When the line is complete this speed will increase to 514 kilometers per hour, completing the whole journey in 67 minutes.

Bullet trains in AmericaSouthern Pines Amtrack

The US is playing a game of catch up somewhat in relation to high speed trains. However, the Obama administration set aside a budget of $8 billion for development of much needed and so called bullet trains.

It is likely that California will be the first state to lead the way in the technology as it already has voter approved planning in place. The estimated completion date is 2028 but it will bring much needed development to the train capabilities of the vast country.

  • When the first phase is eventually commissioned and completed in California the system will stretch 520 miles between San Francisco and Anaheim and the trains will reach speeds of 340 kilometers per hour.
  • The Californian train project has received criticism for higher than approved costs and delays in predicted timescales.