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Retrofitting Solar Panels to Existing Structures: High Speed Rail

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 15th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk

From “High-speed Euro train gets green boost from two miles of solar panels” by Damian Carrington:

A two-mile-long Belgian rail tunnel, built to shelter trains from falling trees, will from Monday provide a double environmental benefit by hosting a unique solar power project. The high-speed line running from Paris to Amsterdam passes Antwerp and a nearby ancient forest. To avoid the need to fell protected trees, a long tunnel was built over the line which has now been topped with 16,000 solar panels. The electricity produced is equivalent to that needed to power all the trains in Belgium for one day per year, and will also help power Antwerp station.

“For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can be delivered within a year because they don’t attract the protests that wind power does,” said Bart Van Renterghem, UK head of Belgian renewable energy company Enfinity, which installed the panels. “We had a couple of projects lined up around London with train operators and water utilities, but they have been put on hold.” Van Renterghem said this was due to the UK government’s controversial review of subsidies for large-scale solar power projects, which will lower the returns available.

The UK government argues that solar technology is too expensive, but Van Renterghem said he had seen the cost of cells halve in the last two to three years thanks to economies of scale in Germany, France and Belgium. The new Blackfriars station in London, which will span the River Thames, will host the largest single collection of solar panels in the UK when it opens in spring 2012. The roof of the new station will have 4,400 panels and a capacity of 1MW, enough to provide 50% of the station’s electricity. However, the development is not dependent on the level of government subsidy for solar power as the £7.3m bill was paid by the transport department’s environment fund.

Read this article by Damian Carrington on The Guardian.


High-Speed Rail: A Catalyst for Sustainable City Development

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 2nd, 2011

Source: Going Solar Transport Newsletter


Image: paularps via flickr CC

From A Track Record of Success High-Speed Rail Around the World and Its Promise for America by the US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund:
As America moves toward construction of new high-speed rail networks in regions throughout the country, we have much to learn from experiences abroad. High-speed rail lines have operated for more than 45 years in Japan and for three decades in Europe, providing a wealth of information about what the United States can expect from high-speed rail and how we can receive the greatest possible benefits from our investment. Indeed, the experience of high-speed rail lines abroad, as well as America’s limited experience with high-speed rail on the East Coast, suggests that the United States can expect great benefits from investing in a high-speed passenger rail system, particularly if it makes steady commitments to rail improvements and designs the system wisely.

High-speed rail systems in other nations have been able to dramatically reduce the volume of short-haul flights between nearby cities and significantly reduce inter-city car travel. In the United States, similar shifts would ease congestion in the skies and offer alternatives to congested highways, reducing the need for expensive new investments in highways and airports. Short-haul plane trips are the least efficient in terms of time and fuel, and replacing those trips allows air travel to be more efficient and focused on long-haul trips. High-speed rail service has almost completely replaced short-haul air service on several corridors in Europe, such as between Paris and Lyon, France, and between Cologne and Frankfurt, Germany.

  • The number of air passengers between London and Paris has been cut in half since high-speed rail service was initiated between the two cities through the Channel Tunnel.
  • In Spain, high-speed rail service between Madrid and Seville reduced the share of travel by car between the two cities from 60 percent to 34 percent. The recent launch of high-speed rail service between Madrid and Barcelona has cut air travel on what was once one of the world’s busiest passenger air routes by one-third.
  • Even in the northeastern United States, where Amtrak Acela Express A Track Record of Success service is slow by international standards, rail service accounts for 65 percent of the air/rail market on trips between New York and Washington, D.C., and 52 percent of the air/rail market on trips between Boston and New York.

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