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A very crappy photo of a wind farm I made from a train window (Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary):

Check this diary for another photo of the same farm, where you can just make out the pairs of railway line catenary poles -- for scale.

In Europe, railway right-of-way usually doesn't extend beyond the full track -- where I include not only the rails, sleepers and trackbed, but the earthen foundation and the water trenches, too. So for a two-track mainline, say ten metres wide.

On your argument of transporting wind turbine parts on railway: unfortunately, this is less good an idea than it looks on the face of it. On one hand, catenary would be a problem for big cargo. Less so in the US with its mostly diesel mainlines, still, tunnels might cause a problem for bigger parts. On the other hand, the length of blades would be beyond the length of railcars, for the biggest even the length of spacing between catenary poles -- one would need specialised coupled wagons and special rules of no traffic in the other direction (hanging into the cross section in curves).

I am not sure whether there are rules taking into account potential break-off of blades, but that may also be a problem.

Another issue might be that wind turbine placement usually takes into account relief and wind directions and the placement of other turbines, so placing them along a railway line might not be the best option.

However, one plus for placing wind farms near railway lines might be power lines: railways need them anyway, so they could be coupled.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 2nd, 2007 at 02:32:10 PM EST

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