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  1. #1
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    amtrak and fuel consumption

    Hi guys,

    I am heading from central missouri to washington dc in March and I want to take the train for what I hoped would be just slightly less money in Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pockets.

    However as I searched the internet last night I discovered that its less energy efficient than either a personal car or a commercial airplane. Do you agree or have you found any information that counters that information.

    Regardless I think I am going to take it because I will get to see the countryside as I travel and we are not going to have ANY mass transit in this country unless people use it.

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    I don't think it's accurate that Amtrak is less energy efficient than cars and planes. There's a study from 2000 using data from the 1990s that makes this claim, but it seems only to compare fuel use per mile divided by passengers (not taking into account the enormously larger energy cost of road construction and car manufacturing compared to rail construction and train manufacturing). In any event, there's more current data that suggests the simpler fuel use comparison now tilts in Amtrak's favor.

    Of course, comparing Amtrak to the efficiency of a modern country's rail system is another story . . .
    Last edited by Takara; 11-21-07 at 01:05 PM.

  3. #3
    gwd
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    Bring your bike along. March is cold rain time in DC but who knows, with global warming and all 2008 might be different.

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    Rail travel is the second most efficient transportation system, after the bicycle. A train full of people gets close to 600 MPG per passenger mile. A 747 gets 70 MPG PPM. A loaded Prius is only good for 150 MPG PPM. So, rail it away pal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan180iq View Post
    Rail travel is the second most efficient transportation system, after the bicycle. A train full of people gets close to 600 MPG per passenger mile. A 747 gets 70 MPG PPM. A loaded Prius is only good for 150 MPG PPM. So, rail it away pal.
    Source for amtrak please?

    Trains are all different from each other.

    Here are the two sources that claim amtrak less efficient than a auto and a airplane.

    I wonder how efficent al Gores private jets are? I bet he gets 899999999999999999999999999 miles per passenger per gallon because he "cares."

    http://www.lafn.org/~dave/trans/ener...-3.html#ss3.21

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_ef...transportation
    Last edited by gosmsgo; 11-21-07 at 01:51 PM.

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    gwd
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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    Source for amtrak please?

    Trains are all different from each other.

    Here are the two sources that claim amtrak less efficient than a auto and a airplane.

    I wonder how efficent al Gores private jets are? I bet he gets 899999999999999999999999999 miles per passenger per gallon because he "cares."

    http://www.lafn.org/~dave/trans/ener...-3.html#ss3.21

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_ef...transportation
    If the route you use is busy it will get better than average and if not you'll get worse than average mileage. Here on the North East Corridor as they call it, the trains are often full. I've heard on the radio, that there are links out west that aren't used much.

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    I could hop aboard a freight train.

    My 155#'s plus bike and suitcase probably would not cause 1 additional gallon of diesel to be burned the whole trip.

    If they still had boxcars AND I knew where in the hell the train was headed I might try it. I dont feel like sitting on a tanker car or on a car full of coal.

    In the movies the people are always in a box car full of scattered hay!!! I doubt its like that in real life.

  8. #8
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    I could hop aboard a freight train.

    My 155#'s plus bike and suitcase probably would not cause 1 additional gallon of diesel to be burned the whole trip.

    If they still had boxcars AND I knew where in the hell the train was headed I might try it. I dont feel like sitting on a tanker car or on a car full of coal.

    In the movies the people are always in a box car full of scattered hay!!! I doubt its like that in real life.
    What about the cows that the scattered hay was put there for???
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

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    reductio ad absurdum ericy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwd View Post
    Bring your bike along. March is cold rain time in DC but who knows, with global warming and all 2008 might be different.
    Yeah, no kidding. Today it was sunny and in the 70's. I had put away the summer riding gear for the winter, only to dig it out again . If that's not good bike riding weather, tell me what is. No telling what March will be like, so be prepared to bring your bike.

    Regarding the rail vs fly question, I would come down in favor of rail. In general rail has the potential to be far more energy efficient, and in the NE corridor, the lines are electrified, so they don't burn any diesel at all.

    Now if you were the only passenger on the train it would be seen as a waste of energy, but the same would hold true for a plane with one passenger.

    In any event, with rail you don't have the inevitable security lines to deal with.

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    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    Rail only suffers when it isn't used, so if everyone won't use it because if others won't it'll be inefficient, it'll always be inefficient.

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    It's always easy to point the finger at Amtrak because they can't afford to buy modern energy saving locomotives. In addition, Amtrak can't run at higher speeds in many parts of the country due to the fact they are using fright lines.

    Come to New Jersey and stand at the Princton station and watch as Amtrak BLASTS past at over 80 mph! It's incredible to see this two story buiding roar past you just 30 feet away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    I am heading from central missouri to washington dc in March and I want to take the train for what I hoped would be just slightly less money in Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pockets.
    Well, according to the EIA, you're really lining the pockets of that EVIL country to the north of us. That's right, CANADA!!!

    Chavez still gets a nice cut though. Check it out:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/p...nt/import.html

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    Their socialist *******s as well.

    : )

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    Senior Member bsdsys_x86's Avatar
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    Interesting topic, I actually planned on taking trips with Amtrak to a lot of places in the country I haven't been before when I made my move... I still see that happening.

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    For what you get from Amtrack the prices are pretty out of control (off of the eastern corridor anyway). As far as fuel consumption my guess has been that Greyhound is probably still the best. Every intercity bus I've ever been on was full, as in no empty seats full. They also throw a bunch of US Postal mail in the empty spaces in the cargo compartment. My guess would be that they are making an incredibly good use (in terms of passenger miles and freight miles) for every gallon of diesel they buy. To top it off they are still the least expensive way of moving across the country and in my experience will get you there at about the same speed or maybe a little slower than amtrak, but almost always on time.

    As car fee methods of travel I really like the bus and train as they typically drop you in the middle of a cities downtown which is often near where you are going anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    It's always easy to point the finger at Amtrak because they can't afford to buy modern energy saving locomotives. In addition, Amtrak can't run at higher speeds in many parts of the country due to the fact they are using fright lines.

    Come to New Jersey and stand at the Princton station and watch as Amtrak BLASTS past at over 80 mph! It's incredible to see this two story buiding roar past you just 30 feet away.
    Well now,,,,
    the only Amtrak run that is "good" is the Boston-DC Acela express. And by strange coincidence, I read somewhere that this one run was the ONLY one in the entire USA that ever consistently turned a profit.

    Living in the midwest I can tell you--when most of the coal mining stopped (due to regulations against high-sulfur coal) many of the rail lines were torn up or abandoned, and many of the unprofitable Amtrak train routes became outright impossible. When you "go Amtrak" now, in most of the USA it means you're riding a bus.
    ~

  17. #17
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    CSX ad's say that a train can move one ton of freight 440 miles on one gallon
    of diesel fuel.
    Amtark should be about the same.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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  18. #18
    reductio ad absurdum ericy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
    CSX ad's say that a train can move one ton of freight 440 miles on one gallon
    of diesel fuel.
    Amtark should be about the same.
    The thing is though that rail can easily be electrified by hanging overhead wires, and using electric locomotives. They do this all over Europe, and in the end can move freight without burning any diesel fuel.

  19. #19
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    Mag-Lev
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike2math View Post
    For what you get from Amtrack the prices are pretty out of control (off of the eastern corridor anyway). As far as fuel consumption my guess has been that Greyhound is probably still the best. Every intercity bus I've ever been on was full, as in no empty seats full. They also throw a bunch of US Postal mail in the empty spaces in the cargo compartment. My guess would be that they are making an incredibly good use (in terms of passenger miles and freight miles) for every gallon of diesel they buy. To top it off they are still the least expensive way of moving across the country and in my experience will get you there at about the same speed or maybe a little slower than amtrak, but almost always on time.

    As car fee methods of travel I really like the bus and train as they typically drop you in the middle of a cities downtown which is often near where you are going anyway
    .
    The newer interurban buses get about 11 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. Divide that by a capacity of 56 passengers (or more, depending on configuration), and the figures are impressive.


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  21. #21
    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    *cough*Multiply*cough*

  22. #22
    reductio ad absurdum ericy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr. nate View Post
    Mag-Lev
    Yeah, that's one of those cool ideas that is just too expensive to deploy.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericy View Post
    Yeah, that's one of those cool ideas that is just too expensive to deploy.
    If you told me I could cut my commute from one hour to ten minutes, I would glady play...and so would most of the residents who live on the West Side of Houston. Plus, it makes a really cool "whoosh" sound at 200 mph when it goes by.

    -Nate
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  24. #24
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye View Post
    *cough*Multiply*cough*
    Right. I was mixing my units. (Fuel consumed per passenger mile vs. passenger miles per gallon)

    Anyhoo, the fuel figures for newer buses are impressive, when calculated correctly. The next generation is using ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel and hybrid technology to reduce pollution even more. And I believe you were the one who explained to me why trains are inherently efficient, using the analogy of cyclists in a paceline.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  25. #25
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    A train (particularly if longer) is roughly 4-8x as efficient as a bus for moving passengers, due to less frontal area relative to volume, the reduced rolling resistance of steel wheels on steel rails, and the minimal grades that trains deal with.

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