High-Speed Rail Around the World
At the US High Speed Rail Association’s High Speed Rail Conference: Bringing High-Speed Rail to America, the session, “High-Speed Rail Around the World” had representatives from around the world to share best practices and lessons learned from other countries.
UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux by pre-recorded video talked about Washington Day it held around the time of the UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia, Pa., this summer. There were a series of exchanges between American politicians and rail leaders from across the globe which created a new milestone in the efforts to promote and illustrate the benefits of HSR.
Siemens Industry Inc. Director, HSR Development Mobility Division, Armin Kick said this is all about getting people and goods transported faster between city centers. “If you can cut out an hour in the commute, something happens in the mode split.” He added, “We see it happen everywhere.”
To make HSR affordable, Kick said you don’t have to do everything new. Existing lines can be used to get into the city centers. Making it more affordable makes it much more realistic in the eye of the public. He stated, “Yes, HSR is very expensive, but the benefits that come from it can be very large.”
Kick also talked about the ETCS system in Europe. The one train control system affords trains the ability to cross borders seamlessly and the idea is that the system will replace all the other 22 systems that were out there. “It wasn’t efficient to weigh down a train set with seven or eight systems on board.”
One of the rules of this is that it would all be open sourced and you can download it on the Internet in some 14 languages. This has created an opportunity for ETCS worldwide as the companies that invested at the time to supply Europe, they now have a global market because a lot of other folks are looking for train control. And, they’re looking at this system because it’s open sourced and can be applied to their system. And with multiple global providers available, there are options to choose from.
When it comes to delays on the runways, the amount of fuel that we are wasting is phenomenal, said The Louis Berger Group Technical Vice President Rail & Transit Vinay Mudholkar. He also talked the HSR being built in the Middle East.
“In the next 10 years, a lot of the oil will be used for desalination of water for drinking purposes, so they’re trying to decrease their energy demands for transportation purposes.”
He stressed, “The dynamics of transportation are going to be changing going forward.”
Building HSR in Saudia Arabia, it’s a harsh environment. Temperatures are extreme, going as high as 115 and as low as 2 degrees. The amount of sand he said they had to move was 30 percent more volume than the Great Wall of China.
Working on HSR in other countries, Mudholkar stressed you’re creating local jobs and global jobs. He said they had 10,000 people working in Saudi Arabia from all over the world. And, it created a new industry in that part of the world and now the rail industry is providing more jobs for Saudis.
As for U.S. involvement, some of the equipment being used was sent from the States. With excellent freight moving in the United States, they used American axle loadings. Mudholkar said they shipped about $100 million worth of locomotives from EMD from Chicago. “They are strong and can handle the hard desert environment.”
There was also about $150 million of track maintenance technology from U.S. products but as Mudholkar said, there’s just not a lot of national attention about it.
These projects create a stimulus to all the suppliers who supply equipment; it creates jobs in the machinery sector. Moving sand is like us moving snow in North America, he explained. “It was such a huge problem we had to design special equipment to move it. It can be done. We have good, smart manufacturers out there.”