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Old November 12th, 2009, 11:55 PM   #1
poshbakerloo
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MISC | Is diesel rail that bad?

Is diesel rail that bad? When people 'brag' about how good there countries rail network is, quite often they quote the percentage that the network is electrified...

Although I can see for true HSR you need electric trains for 180-200Mph running...

...Does it really matter of your normal commuter 75-100Mph and regular intercity trains 100-130Mph...are diesel?

People quite often just think that if a rail network is mainly diesel, its backwards, slow, lacking in investment and dirty...

England does have a mainly diesel rail network, and sometimes, yes, you get trains like this...



But most of the time its not all bad...all of the main lines run 125Mph tilting trains...



Do you shudder at the thought of diesel trains?
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:09 AM   #2
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I don't know how efficient Diesel trains are, I know however, that electric trains are better when it comes to acceleration (especially also at low speeds), furthermore they are not limited by fuel they have to carry around with them.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:09 AM   #3
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this is obviously very complex

in switzerland the terrain pretty much demanded 100 % electrification
in france electricity is generated from nuclear power which is a hell of a lot cheaper (and makes them more independent)
it is more economical to reduce pollution at a huge factory rather than on every single trainset

and for me, at least in case of commuter rail, it boils down to acceleration

a diesel train has to carry enormous weight with it, wherease say a stadler flirt can accelerate like a rocket, which is pretty important when it comes to average speed (not top speed!) on lines where these trains have to stop every 3-5 kms (most s-bahn and commuter lines in the whole of europe)
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Old November 13th, 2009, 01:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poshbakerloo View Post
Is diesel rail that bad? When people 'brag' about how good there countries rail network is, quite often they quote the percentage that the network is electrified...
Diesel is not bad per se. It's just a waste of energy on frequently used railway lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by poshbakerloo View Post
Although I can see for true HSR you need electric trains for 180-200Mph running...

...Does it really matter of your normal commuter 75-100Mph and regular intercity trains 100-130Mph...are diesel?
Yes, it does matter. Electric powered trains are much cheaper to operate. Not only doesn't have an EMU to carry its energy. It also returns part of its kinetic energy back into the power system when slowing down. Furthermore has an electric engine a much greater efficiency factor than a Diesel engine.

EMUs are lighter.
-> greater acceleration
-> less attrition on the rails

Quote:
Originally Posted by poshbakerloo View Post
People quite often just think that if a rail network is mainly diesel, its backwards, slow, lacking in investment and dirty...

England does have a mainly diesel rail network...
British trains look good. The system overall, however, is not so good. It is simply way behind railway networks on the continent in terms of efficiency and capacity.

With an expected rise in energy costs the advantage of electric powered trains will become even greater in the future. The quicker Britain electrifies the better it is for the whole country.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 05:06 AM   #5
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Also, electric trains last longer than diesel (less moving parts). EMUs compared to their DMU counterparts are smoother (no underfloor engines) and thus provide superior passenger comfort, in addition to superior performance mentioned above.

Diesels are fine for lightly trafficked secondary lines that don't warrant the high infrastructure costs of electrification.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gramercy View Post
in switzerland the terrain pretty much demanded 100 % electrification
Additionally to this reason there are two major reasons why Switzerland has 100% electrified tracks.
- No fossil resources (coal/oil) within the country.
- Water power. (Water is the only major natural recource of Switzerland and all of the electricity used by trains is generated by water power.)
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Old November 13th, 2009, 11:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gramercy View Post
this is obviously very complex

in switzerland the terrain pretty much demanded 100 % electrification
in france electricity is generated from nuclear power which is a hell of a lot cheaper (and makes them more independent)
it is more economical to reduce pollution at a huge factory rather than on every single trainset

and for me, at least in case of commuter rail, it boils down to acceleration

a diesel train has to carry enormous weight with it, wherease say a stadler flirt can accelerate like a rocket, which is pretty important when it comes to average speed (not top speed!) on lines where these trains have to stop every 3-5 kms (most s-bahn and commuter lines in the whole of europe)
I agree with all of that.

From a more aesthetic point of view: I prefer Diesel trains because the tracks don't come with nasty overhead wiring that ruins the landscape. In Holland we call that sort of thing horizon pollution.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 11:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flierfy View Post
British trains look good. The system overall, however, is not so good. It is simply way behind railway networks on the continent in terms of efficiency and capacity.
Some networks on the continent, I wouldn't say that the british network is way behind Romania, Portugal or Poland.

In fact I think that in terms of capacity we are behind France and Germany, similar to Italy but carry more passenger/kms than any other network in Europe.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #9
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When I get my train in the morning I just love it when I get on a carriage where the underfloor engine is turned off, I can sleep then.

Other days I'm sat right above the engine, vibrating and loud.

Diesel is shite.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
I agree with all of that.

From a more aesthetic point of view: I prefer Diesel trains because the tracks don't come with nasty overhead wiring that ruins the landscape. In Holland we call that sort of thing horizon pollution.
There is a simple solution for that: Use a life rail!
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Old November 13th, 2009, 12:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
nasty overhead wiring
well, as it is expected, the swiss make a good job of cleaning that up too
they always use aluminium and/or stainless steel which looks very modern and clean
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Old November 13th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #12
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In terms of efficiency, electrified tracks beats diesel hands down because diesel needs to carry it's own energy source(Diesel fuel) while electrified trains does not meaning they are lighter not needing to carry the extra mass.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 02:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
In Holland we call that sort of thing horizon pollution.
From a Swiss point of view there isn't much landscape to see in Holland anyway

I never had a problem with them honestly. Now the wires of the trams and trolley-buses are another story.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 03:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
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From a Swiss point of view there isn't much landscape to see in Holland anyway
I would argue that the complete lack of anything resembling hills makes power cables and railway tracks all the more obvious:



The single greatest aspect of Dutch landscape is the surreal feeling of emptiness and unlimited views. If you put up a few electricity pylons or construct electrified railways, you have to be extremely careful not to rape the whole area.

That's why the Dutch government has been investing heavily in underground electricity cables. I suspect the railways will face some sort of aesthetical make-over within the next few decades as well.

Quote:
I never had a problem with them honestly. Now the wires of the trams and trolley-buses are another story.
I actually disagree completely. I think the wires of trams add a cosmopolitan feel to the average city streetview whereas railways disturb open landscape.

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Old November 13th, 2009, 03:55 PM   #15
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I don't like those huge overland power cables either, just look at the Linthebene it's crazy.
image hosted on flickr


Just one example:

This is one of the most famous motives in Switzerland (including the train). I don't see where the overhead wires look that bad.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #16
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not to mention that in switzerland it would be impossible to use a third rail because of the snow (i think)
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Old November 13th, 2009, 04:48 PM   #17
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The pictures of overhead cables in Switzerland just illustrate that, although you can make this system look less bad, you can never actually make it look good. Kudos to the Swiss for trying, of course. But this appears to be an unsolvable issue (where third rail isn't an option).
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Old November 13th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #18
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i disagree

on this basis you could say that the trackbad should be made of grass..because thats more natural

but thats not how things work
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Old November 13th, 2009, 05:58 PM   #19
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"thats not how things work"??

There are degrees, aren't there? Nobody is saying the railway track should be made of wood and the trains of sheepskin. But overhead wiring in open farmland is probably more intrusive than overhead wiring in an urban environment to the average person. It just stands out more.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 09:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
The pictures of overhead cables in Switzerland just illustrate that, although you can make this system look less bad, you can never actually make it look good. Kudos to the Swiss for trying, of course. But this appears to be an unsolvable issue (where third rail isn't an option).
It is just Your personal and a bit useless opinion. I love how electrified railways look like. Most of people I know prefer electrical transport too because of acceleration. Do not make your opinion like the only truth.

Swiss railways are amazing and fit in landscape greatly.
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