Electric rail

Modern electric rail systems can help solve many of the problems resulting from road congestion, pollution and emissions. Many examples of electric-powered light rail or underground metro schemes exist globally, are under construction in both OECD and non-OECD countries, or are being expanded. Some use renewable electricity (Box F). Beijing, for example, now boasts the largest metro in the world and still aims to build 120 000 km of new rail by 2020, employing around six million people for an investment of around USD 140 billion/yr (Newman et al., 2009). Delhi is building a 250 km rail network with the aim that 60% of its inhabitants will be within a 15-minute walk of a station. Perth, Western Australia has developed its 170 km network over the past two decades and has successfully attracted people living in the suburbs away from their cars by offering a faster journey time. For any form of o

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electric propulsion the source of electricity has to be considered (Box F). Improved efficiency of the vehicle fleet is also high priority69 but is not discussed further in this report.

In Europe, Japan and elsewhere, high-speed trains are gaining in popularity and competing with short haul flights. Taking a convenient train between two city centres has a breakeven time of up to around four to five hours travel time when compared with using an airport when access, queuing and waiting times are included. In addition according to the Union Internationale de Chemin de Fer70, the greenhouse gas emissions in Europe per passenger kilometre by train at 47 gCO2 /km are claimed to be typically around 25% that of car travel (with one person in the car) and 30% that of the equivalent air travel, including transport to and from the airport. Freight can be as low as 25 gCO2/t km. However, this comparison depends on the source of electricity to power the trains and whether the seats are full. A car with 5 people in could compete well with an electric train running only half full of passengers. The train company Eurostar71 claims to be carbon neutral and its trains in France run mainly on electricity generated by nuclear power. Therefore, each passenger travelling between London and Pan's on a round trip is responsible for just 11 kg of CO2 emissions if making the trip by train, whereas flying the same route would generate over 120 kg per person.

Box F • Electric light rail powered by wind

The City of Calgary's light rail transit system, the C-train, with electric drive motors powered by overhead electric wires, transports around 200 000 passengers daily. Annual power demand to operate the network is over 21 GWh. Most of the power generated in the state of Alberta is from coal-fired power stations. The light rail system running on coal-fired power is responsible for emissions of around 20 000 tCO2/yr. If all the rail passengers drove cars with only one person in each instead of taking the train, the total carbon emissions would be around 150 000 tCO2/yr higher, illustrating the environmental benefits of public transport even when powered by fossil-fuel generated electricity.

Strong westerly winds coming from the Rocky Mountains led to the development of a twelve 650 kW turbine wind farm to the south of Calgary. Changes in the regulations that govern the sale of electricity in Alberta now allow anyone to buy electricity from companies producing wind power. A partnership between the city, the local energy supply company ENMAX Power Corporation and Vision Quest Windelectric Inc. resulted in the City of Calgary announcing the Ride the WindFM programme in September 2001. The council took the decision to buy commercial wind power as the primary source of the C-train's electricity at an additional cost of around CAN 0.005 per passenger trip. The greenhouse gas emissions from operating the train are now effectively zero. This was the first light rail system in North America to, in effect, run on wind power. A high speed train between Calgary and Edmonton is now under evaluation and could theoretically also be powered by renewable electricity.

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable.

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