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Railways, energy, CO2 - Part 2

by DoDo Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 08:40:09 AM EST

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at one set of data on the energy use and CO2 emissions of operating trains and rival transport modes, valid for Germany.

We saw that rail looks relatively good, what's more, unlike for other transport modes, there is significant potential for reduction from shifting electricity production to non-fossil fuels, especially in terms of CO2 emissions.

However, transport-related energy use and CO2 emissions don't only come from operation. There is, for one, the construction of the vehicles themselves. More importantly, there is the construction of infrastructure.

Rail is undoubtedly an infrastructure-heavy transport mode, high-speed rail especially so. In this part, I will present a back-of-the-envelope calculation on the four main energy-consuming and CO2-emitting 'ingredients' of high-speed lines: steel, concrete, trucking of materials, and tunnel boring. My aim throughout is to give a high estimate, not a worst-case scenario, but more the higher end of what could be seen as 'typical'.

1.1 Basic data – the line

I will base my calculation primarily on the Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed line.

The travel distance from station to station is 180,005 m. Along this, the new line is only 163.6 km, but it has also double-tracked branches 15.2 km, 13.2 km, and 4.8 km long – a total of 196.8 line-km. (The surface area taken up by tracks is thus around 2 million m².)

The total length of tunnels along the lime is 50,020 m (some added to original plans upon local demands, some with construction problems, contributing to a well over-budget €6.0 billion total cost), and even bridges add up to 6,012 m. While there are high-speed lines with much more superstructure (one of the first German lines is more than 90% tunnels and bridges, while Japan's and Taiwan's trunk lines are not far behind), most have around this relative amount or less, some much less – say French lines or Berlin–Hanover.

The amount of concrete used to line the tunnels was 3 million m³. I have no overall data for the bridges, but from the amount of concrete / length of some of the largest (for example, the below pictured Hallerbachtalbrücke = Haller Creek Valley Bridge: 992 m long with 17,320 m³ concrete), it should add up to no more than 0.1–0.2 million m³. Most of the track was built as fixed track: instead of rails on sleepers on a bed of broken stone, rails were fixed to a concrete base. For this, 0.55 million m³ was used. Summing up and rounding up, I'll calculate with 4 million m³ of concrete. (This is around 10 million tons.)

From data given for some tunnels and bridges, it seems that the superstructures contain steel with a mass around 1/20th of concrete, most of that in reinforced concrete. That's 0.5 million tons. Rails are 60 kg/m, so two tracks over 200 line-km are 48,000 tons. All other uses (catenary, signal masts etc.) are dwarfed by these. I'll go with 0.6 million tons of steel.

In addition to concrete and steel, various vehicles had to transport the 7.5 million m³ earth that was removed. After adding all up, I'll go with 30 million tons to move.

1.2 Basic data – specific energy and emissions

A 2000 German source claims a global average of 19.8 GJ⁄t(steel), and from its totals, a global average specific emission of 1.7 t(CO2)⁄t(steel) can be calculated, and they say it's less for Germany. However, many other sources, including an quarry in Austria [pdf!] and a German wind turbine energy balance calculation [pdf!], use 1.85–2 t(CO2)⁄t(steel).

Now checking with the German Federal Environment Agency's database of energy/emissions models, I find various data. The average German mix, which includes about two-thirds steel from iron ore and one third electro-steel from scrap metal (much less energy intensive process), is cited at 19.9 GJ⁄t(steel) resp. 1.39 t(CO2)⁄t(steel). Oxygenated steel at 22.8 GJ⁄t(steel) resp. 1.6 t(CO2)⁄t(steel). What I find strange is the even higher figure for raw iron: 23.8 GJ⁄t(steel) resp. 1.64 t(CO2)⁄t(steel). I note that clearly almost all of the energy and emissions comes from smelters, for example, mining contributes only around 0.5 GJ⁄t(ore) and 0.05 t(CO2)⁄t(ore).

Very much on the safe side, I shall use 25 GJ and 2 t(CO2)⁄t(steel).

For concrete itself, one can find strongly different figures. That quarry in Austria [pdf!] gives 78 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete). A paper on ecological home-building [pdf, German!] evaluates two different types of concrete at 73 and 131 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete) – and 495 resp. 764 MJ⁄t(concrete). US industry site Concrete Thinker's figures convert to 103 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete). That wind turbine calculation [pdf, German!] even gives 171 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete). Even the German Federal Environment Agency database has one set of data with 131 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete), another with 170 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete) and 988 MJ⁄t(concrete). In different units (1 m³ concrete is roughly 2.5 t), a German industry brochure [pdf!] gives 251 kg(CO2)⁄m³(concrete) and 1,750 MJ/m³(concrete). A study of Swiss concrete production facilities [pdf!] found primary energy uses of 905–2,370 MJ/m³(concrete).

Why so much variation? If one checks figures for actual concrete production, say those in Swiss construction giant Holcim's energy-emissions report [pdf!], they are about half a kg(CO2)⁄m³(concrete) resp. below 35 MJ/m³(concrete) – negligible compared to all figures above. Almost all of the energy and emission comes just from making cement. As Concrete Thinker says, concrete can consist of anything between 7–15% cement, which explains the above variation. For cement production, 40% of emissions come from combustion, and 60% from the chemical process itself: calcination releases CO2.

Concrete Thinker gives 0.9 t(CO2)⁄t(cement) for cement production. The German power plant ash association's brochure [pdf!] cites two figures, 0.95 and 1.01 t(CO2)⁄t(cement). As for energy, the US industry site cites 4.65 MBTU/(short) ton(cement), which is around 5.45 GJ⁄t(cement) in civilised units. The German Federal Environment Agency's database has 0.944 t(CO2)⁄t(cement) and 4.88 GJ⁄t(cement). (Note that for the above-mentioned concrete with 170 kg(CO2)⁄t(concrete) emissions, they calculated with 16.9% cement.)

So if for concrete, it's all about cement content, I have to check that. A construction research site's lexicon [German!] gives, as high mark, 270–300 kg(cementJ⁄m³(concrete) for surface reinforced concrete. Cement content in the special concrete for the fixed track trackbed is somewhat higher, in more mundane filling concrete lower, in shotcrete 50% higher, so I feel justified to use the maximum for surface reinforced concrete as overall average. With the above German data, that would mean up to 1,465 MJ and 0.28 t(CO2)⁄m³(concrete) from the cement.

I will use 2,000 MJ/m³(concrete) and 0.3 t(CO2)⁄m³(concrete).

As postscript, I note that net CO2 emissions of concrete are significantly less: concrete recarbonates over time, absorbing CO2 from the air. But I hand the question of how significant that could be for bridge/tunnel/trackbed concrete to margouillat.

Materials transport
I will assume that all the material to be moved is transported on trucks. Thus I can take the worse figure from Part 1 (the one for >3.5 t trucks on average) of 3.6 l(diesel)⁄100 tkm. When calculating total energy, I will convert to Mega-Joules with the standard figure for volumetric energy density used in Germany, 35 MJ/l(diesel). For CO2 emissions, I will round up the higher figure in Part 1, to 100 g(CO2)⁄tkm.

I will further assume average transport distances of 100 km, one way. I will account for the return journeys as if those were loaded, too.

Tunnel boring
The tunnels on the Cologne–Frankfurt line are mostly large-diameter single-tube ones built with the drill&blast method. However, I think the use of tunnel boring machines (TBMs) is more typical and will become even more typical, and two tubes is now standard for longer tunnels. Thus I chose another German high-speed line tunnel as standard, one with rather large-diameter bored tubes and cut through varied stone under not too high mountains.

The Katzenbergtunnel, just north of the Swiss city of Basel, will open in 2011. The bored part of its two tubes is 8984 m long. The Marion/east tube took 838 days (14 June 2005–20 September 2007), that's 10.72 m/day; the Inken/west tube 733 days (23 September 2005–1 October 2007) or 12.25 m/day.  The two TBMs used were rated at 3,200 kW. Generously assuming TBMs running at full power throughout (in truth they stopped for holidays and regular checks), we get 0.121 TWh for both tubes, that's 435 TJ. Dividing with 8,984 m, one gets 48.5 TJ/km(line).

The above figure is end-use energy. From DB's figures in the previous diary, one can estimate traction end-use electric energy as around 35% of primary energy. I'm going to assume that TBM electricity supply is rather similar to locomotive electricity supply, thus: around 140 TJ/km(line).

For CO2, one can just divide the figures for electricity-related emissions and end-use energy in Part 1 (about 5/3 t(CO2)⁄TJ), and apply that to the above – getting at around 8,000 t(CO2)⁄km(line).

2.1 Total construction primary energy consumption

Now I apply the specific figures to the total volumes on the Cologne–Frankfurt line, e.g. multiply the numbers in 1.1. and 1.2:

  • steel: 0.6 million t(steel) x (25 GJ/t(steel)) = 15,000 TJ,
  • concrete: 4 million m³(concrete) x (2,000 MJ/m³(concrete)) = 8,000 TJ,
  • material transport: 30 million t(load) x 2 x 100 km x (3.6 l(diesel)⁄100 tkm) = 216 million l(diesel) = 7,560 TJ,
  • tunnel boring: 50 km(line) x (140 TJ/km(line)) = 7,000 TJ.

2.2 Total construction CO2 emissions

  • steel: 0.6 million t(steel) x (2 t(CO2)⁄t(steel)) = 1.2 million t(CO2),
  • concrete: 4 million m³(concrete) x (0.3 t(CO2)⁄m³(concrete)) = 1.2 million t(CO2),
  • material transport: 30 million t(load) x 2 x 100 km x (0.0001 t/tkm) = 0.6 million t(CO2),
  • tunnel boring: 50 km(line) x (8,000 t(CO2)⁄km(line)) = 0.4 million t(CO2).

Let's try one cross-check on the truck data, using a standard number for CO2 emissions from burning Diesel oil including fuel production  share: 216 million l(diesel) x (2.84  kg(CO2)⁄l(diesel)) = 613,440 t(CO2), that's a good fit.

3 From construction totals to contributions for train travel

Now comes the trickiest part. On just what amount of passenger-kilometres should I distribute the construction-related totals?

One part of this question is time. In how many years should one expect the replacement of the entire material of the line, or decommissioning from service? With the oldest high-speed line (Tokyo–Osaka) in service for only 43 years, and high-speed fixed track not in use for two decades, there is no hard data. Tunnels on the older Japanese lines got major overhaul, but that still wasn't complete material replacement. On normal rail mainlines, concrete in tunnels and bridges can survive over a century. Rails are changed much faster, 1–3 decades. With development in technology, it is unpredictable how energy efficient the next replacement or even maintenance will be.

So, while it could be much linger as per above, I will calculate with a depreciation time of 50 years for all main contributing factors.

With that, the annualised construction-related primary energy consumption for each contributing factor, expressed in Tera-Joules, as well as in litres gasoline, with the German standard of 32 MJ/l(gasoline) (figure for Superbenzin blend):

  • 12,000 TJ/50 = 240 TJ or 7.5 million l(gasoline) from steel,
  • 8,000 TJ/50 = 160 TJ or 5 million l(gasoline) from concrete,
  • 7,560 TJ/50 =~ 150 TJ or 4.7 million l(gasoline) from materials transport,
  • 7,000 TJ/50 = 140 TJ or ~4.4 million l(gasoline) from tunneling.

The annualised construction-related emissions:

  • 1.2 million t(CO2)⁄50 = 24,000 t(CO2) from steel,
  • 1.2 million t(CO2)⁄50 = 24,000 t(CO2) from concrete,
  • 0.6 million t(CO2)⁄50 = 12,000 t(CO2) from materials transport,
  • 0.4 million t(CO2)⁄50 = 8,000 t(CO2) from tunnel boring.

Now what about annual travel volume? This is the trickier half of the trickiest part.

Traffic volumes on high-speed lines over the world differ by more than an order of magnitude. Even if we would go for network averages, the large difference remains (say between Japan's and Spain's). What's more, traffic volume usually runs up over the time scale of a decade, or eve decades, so calculations based on the first few years might be too conservative.

I will not even attempt to find a magic average. Instead, I will calculate five different scenarios, with five different traffic volumes:

  1. 50 million passengers x 200 km = 10 billion pkm (should be typical for connecting close megacities, like in East Asia),
  2. 20 million passengers x 200 km = 4 billion pkm (say line between a megacity and another major city, the busiest European and US lines have/can reach this level),
  3. 10 million passengers x 200 km = 2 billion pkm (connecting two major cities; it's the level of Cologne–Frankfurt in 2007: 11.7 million passengers),
  4. Connecting less major cities: 5 million passengers x 200 km = 1 billion pkm (connecting less major cities),
  5. 2 million passengers x 200 km = 0.4 billion pkm (connecting to local centres, say Córdoba–Málaga).

4.1 Contributions to specific primary energy consumption of train travel

So construction adds to the specific energy consumption, in terms of litre gasoline / 100 passenger-kilometre (l(gasoline)⁄100 pkm):

Steel Concrete Material

4.2 Contributions to specific CO2 emission of train travel

So construction adds to emissions, in terms of grams CO2 / passenger-kilometre (g(CO2)⁄pkm):

Steel Concrete Material

5 Comparison with other modes

The rival modes for high-speed are cars on highways, and short-range airplanes between airports. To be frank, I don't know enough about highways and airports to make a quantitative comparison, so here only some qualitative considerations.

High-speed lines have (or connect to) stations, airports have terminals, highways have tank stops and rest houses and exits – I think those are roughly comparable, and suspect they don't make much of a difference in a comparison.

Because cars can climb higher grades, highways have less tunnels and bridges than high-speed rail. However, they are much wider: the standard highway road-top cross section for Germany is 29,5 m, as opposed to 9 m for the fixed track on the Cologne-Frankfurt line (and only a little more at the bottom of the crushed stone ballast bed for conventional track). But I don't know how much concrete is involved, nor the CO2 and energy figures for the frequently changed asphalt cover – only suspect that overall, it's the same volume.

For a comparison with car traffic, one would need to separate short-range commuters near cities and longer travels along the highway. German highways see 100,000+cars/day in the busiest city sections, and I found average figures for the state of Rhineland-Westphalia (includes the Ruhr Area conurbanism) around 50–60,000 cars a day. From that, I conlude that long-range highway traveller volume along Cologne–Frankfurt is probably multiple billion pkm, anything from half to four times the high-speed rail traffic.

While airplanes don't need infrastructure to fly, they need to start/land and park: the landing strips, taxiways and apron on airports. Some airports need total volumes comparable to my above high-speed line: the new Berlin Brandenburg International airport (rebuilt from Berlin-Schönefeld) needs 1.35 million m³ concrete and 0.25 million m³ asphalt. But this involves some fixed installations which I put aside before, and for short-range flights, smaller airports should be the comparison. There is the new South landing strip at Leipzig [pdf, German!]: the 3,600 m landing strip, its taxiways, and the new apron cover altogether 870,000 m², on which 0.6 million m³ concrete was poured. That's an order of magnitude less than for my high-speed line, though I suspect it must be replaced much more frequently.

I note that the number of nodes and Cologne–Frankfurt-scale lines in a hypothetical fully-built German network are around the same (25–30), and airports for domestic flights should be in the same range. Thus one medium-size airport to one high-speed line seems a reasonable approximation.

:: :: :: :: ::

In a third episode, to be posted maybe next week, I shall look into more studies of full-chain or partial-chain railway and other transport emissions.

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

Related good news:

Argentina chooses Alstom-led consortium to build the first very high speed line in Latin America

The President of the Argentine Republic, Cristina Fernàndez Kirchner, officially announced on 16 January, 2008, that Alstom and its partners IECSA, Emepa, Isolux Corsan have been awarded the first very high speed link project in Latin America, between Buenos Aires, Rosario and Cordoba. This adjudication is a decisive step in the project, before the finalisation and signature of the contract which is scheduled in the next few months.

The line will link Buenos Aires and Cordoba, 710 km apart, in three hours instead of the 14 hours the journey takes today. It will be served by eight double deck very high speed trains, each with a capacity of 500 passengers, operating nine return trips every day at speeds of up to 320 kph.

This turnkey project will involve the construction of the infrastructure, including 7 stations and 780 kilometres of tracks, electrification, signalling (ERTMS level 2), the supply of rolling stock and maintenance.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 08:42:02 AM EST
America, watch out! Especially a certain ex-action-star governor who tried to derail the biggest US high-speed project!

France thinks Argentina's TGV could inspire other markets in the region - Forbes.com

Bussereau said in particular that Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's governor, told the French transport minister he is 'very interested' in a TGV project when they met in Paris.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 08:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ulrich Bunion, on what grounds are you troll-rating DoDo's comment? Have you joined the blog to make yourself a toe-ache?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 05:19:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is one sexy looking train!

Gimme gimme gimme!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 08:23:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (conservative/neoliberal paper) had two articles about the environmental balance of the Deutsche Bahn, last October:

Die geschönte Klimabilanz der Bahn
Noch eine unbequeme Wahrheit

Seems to me that they were making some asymmetric comparisons.

Or: I love it when the FAZ talks about the detours you have to take when travelling with the train, but not about the detours you to take when taking the fastest route with the car.

I love it when the FAZ talks about the energy costs of maintaining rail infrastructure and ignores energy costs of maintaining road infrastructure, and of lighting up the highway at night...

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 05:14:02 PM EST
Gaaah, I still have another diary to finish, and now I would have to do a Deconstruction or two...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 05:45:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last October. Not a hot topic right now. Take your time.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear DoDo, thank you for a nice study that shows clearly the interdependence of each step in the goal of CO2 reductions.... :-)

Cement production, today is more about the 700 kg of CO2 per ton of cement ! It should drop to 20% in the next years by re-using recycled concrete for clinkers. It could drop more drastically if the fuel for the oven (1450°) could be solar or nuclear.

About 1m3 per human on this planet per year is the average quantity of concrete used in multiple forms... !!!

As you stated, cement enters only for a small percentage in concrete. When using the "New Concretes" with extra fine components (silicium ashes, talc, residues of nanotechnologies, etc.) this percentage reduces to about 4% (some are tested with only 1%).

The "strenght" (or resistance to compression which is in fact a resistance to traction in the french test cylinder breaking under vertical pressure) of these "new" concrete with less cement is a factor ten to hundred over the "old" concrete. Implying less quantities of concrete, leading to still less use of cement.

Most of these "new" concrete techniques allows for use of fibers instead of rebars (steel), still reducing the CO2 (steel needs coal),as many of those fibers can be organic.

Trapping CO2 can be done by  carbonatation effect if the concrete is a bit porous (around the century in time for a 80% relative mass result). Concrete is a "young" material and it's just now that studies are done about "old age" concrete (it's like good wine, it's better when old :-) ).
It can also be done by using vegetal fibers as jute and sisal.

This has been around for more then twenty years... It is sad to see that major bridges or civil engineering projects don't use those techniques, mostly because of regulations. And even if a client would want to experiment them, he wouldn't find an insurance company...!

Peak oil might have the effect of allowing some real life and scale testing, as soon we will need concrete for our roads as tar and it's components follows closely oil...

For high speed trains, this will be a problem in the years to come, as the weight and speed wear quite quickly the rails and supports. Some studies show that the ground under those railways must be geologically compact as the vibrations of high speed trains tend to move earth further then expected (Paris Lille TGV had quite a lot of problems on a path torn up in depth by WWI)!

This mustn't sop us to choose rail when we can :-) But it shows that we live in a "linked" world...

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 07:50:59 PM EST
Some studies show that the ground under those railways must be geologically compact as the vibrations of high speed trains

I note that fixed track, as used on shorter sections of the Berlin-Hannover and longer sections of the Cologne-Frankfurt and Nürnberg-Ingolstadt lines, reduces those vibrations strongly.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 07:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite surprising ! As usually it's the "ballast" (in french, sorry) that insures the diminution of vibration transmission to the ground ?
I suppose that those fixed tracks have a specific foundation system (micro stakes?)!

Do you refer to vibrations on the tracks themselves (undulations of rails) or as felt by a neighboring house ?

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 08:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A bit of both, but more the latter.

Ballast track always moves a bit (in every direction) due to vibration. Because different parts of the track move in different directions, the result can be small track alignment errors. However, the key thing is that such small local errors will cause passing trains to impact the rails stronger, with even more vibration, thus there is a loopback between stronger track errors and train-caused vibrations.

Normally, railway infrastructure maintainers will regularly measure track alignment and then correct errors with tamping machines. On high-speed track, this has to be done more frequently, and if an error is not discovered in time, there can be a whole chain of degradations even beyond the track (e.g. ground subsistence, bridge damage, building cracks). What's more, this track wear is (1) not linear with speed, (2) to make things worse, there is even a new phenomenon at higher speeds, that of ballast stone crushing.

From a railway infrastructure manager viewpoint, fixed trains mean higher construction but lower maintenance costs: the alignment corrections turn unnecessary. That also means that local enhanced wear and vibrations won't emerge.

There are different fixed track systems. Some have a quasi-continuous support, but even for the more conventional, weight is distributed by the rigid frame, instead of distribution by the quasi-elastic broken stone trackbed (ballast) for normal track (which allows stronger vertical movement and thus vibration).

One should expect normal fixed track to conuct/emit vibrations of higher frequency, meaning louder track noise. Some fixed track types use passive defense: porous sound-absorbing concrete between and besides the rails atop the structural part. But there is fixed track of the 'mass-sprung' type, already used for conventional railways (in tunnels) and tramways, which employs damping joints and even damping between fixed trackbed and fundament. The boon: old fixed-track can be retro-fitted.

As I said, fixed track just isn't around long enough to have figures from experience (the German Railways started to experiment in 1972), but it is expected that the concrete part has a lifespan of at least 60 years.

I note BTW that while rails and ballast not, concrete sleepers on conventional tracks have 'lifes' of 30 years or more.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 10:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting ! Makes sense :-)

While visiting a concrete research laboratory, I saw a huge hydraulic press with dozens of pistons testing a full scale TGV track (well 3m of it), it was "hush-hush, please no pictures"... It happens that this peculiar laboratory works on fiber concrete :-)

Thank you for those details, they've made my day :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 11:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fixed track on Cologne-Frankfurt line:

Fixed track with noise-absorbing popous concrete:

Different fixed track solutions with mass-sprung systems (click link for larger version):

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 11:14:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow...! Excellent ! Wunderbach! Danke sehr !

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 11:24:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you see anything as to support systems from this picture? It's in the station, of course, so I don't know if the system is the same out in the countryside.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 11:31:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This can't be Kyoto. Looks different, is on the oldest line which was built with ballast track, and that's an E4 "Max" double-deck Shinkansen, belonging to JR East, which runs services to the North from Tokyo.

I see standard Shinkansen slab fixed track. Nothing special, no sprung or damped suspension. This was developed at the same time the German Railways developed their original Rheda system, but unlike the latter, the Japanese consists of prefabricated concrete blocks (that is apart from stations, as on your image...).

Interestingly, there is a high-speed line with both Japanese and German fixed track: Taiwan's THSR, where on streches have the standard Japanese version, tunnels a more recent version of the Rheda system made by RAIL.ONE.

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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 07:16:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been in 5 different stations in Japan, and I don't remember where I took this picture. I just noticed that we could see the track system, so I thought that it might add to your discussion. Besides, I love Shinkansen, so I just like to look at the picture.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 12:03:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Cement production, today is more about the 700 kg of CO2 per ton of cement !

Could you bring more about this? I am almost incredulous. Is that by reducing lime content? (CaCO3 -> CaO + CO2) is (40+12+3x16 -> 40+16 + 12+2x16), or 56/44, so for pure lime, 785 kg per ton burnt lime just from the chemical reaction!

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 11:32:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they use more and more the flying ashes from blast furnaces as slag, or ashes from particle filters of different indutries... It reduces the lime content in the cement furnace...!

It's a bit cheating, as anyhow that CO2 was sent into the atmosphere, but in another time and another place !

And also, I might have been on the short side as it was late last night and don't use those values every day, so it was "about" 0,7 and might have been 0,799999 (but then I would have rounded at 0,8, as I'm honest, at least intellectually :-) )

Next week I'll find the different values for you, they differ a lot as each cement factory has it's ways of following or turning regulations...

What's really new is that the industry has surmised that there was something there that could be cheaper... And, of course, more "fashionable" in the recycling part !

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 11:55:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a mail I just got from the (U.S.) National Association of Rail Passengers...


To NARP Members, January 23, 2008--

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association is
organizing a unique opportunity as part of a guided tour March 1-16 to take
in a lot of the best in "new" European railroading and transit. The tour
guide, Mark Walbrun, PE, is a long-time NARP member and former Amtrak
official who is now a Chicago-based consultant with TranSystems. He is well
qualified to lead this tour.  

He notes that "this is a technical tour, not a rail fan tour (no photo
run-bys, no special vehicles, etc.).  It will be a great opportunity to see
all  that has occurred in high speed rail, intercity rail, DMUs, commuter
rail, metros, light rail, streetcars, and people movers in the last 10 years
in Europe."

You may view the flyer on our website.  Go to:


As the flier indicates, besides tour registration ($700 but there are lower
rates for members of AREMA, American Public Transportation Assn., and
International Air Rail Organisation), participants must purchase a
Eurailpass ($744) and a BritRail Pass ($208 second class). [Those pass
prices are set for each calendar year in U.S. dollars, with no change based
on exchange rate fluctuations.] Many of the hotels can be bought much
cheaper using internet advance payment rates which also lock in the
conversion rate. Of course, meals and local transit will still have to be
bought with local currency whose rate is set when you purchase it.]  

AREMA must get the registration fee by January 31, and will refund in full
if AREMA cancels the tour. "Substitutions may be made for a $50 processing
fee." Also, all travel and hotel reservations will be made and paid for
directly by each participant, "offering flexibility on price and schedule
and allowing for use of airline and hotel rewards and rail pass privileges.
A comprehensive itinerary and a list of suggested hotel locations will be

If you are interested in the trip, please be sure to tell AREMA that you are
a NARP member.

The tour is timed to conclude at the start of the 6th World Congress and
Trade Exhibition on High Speed Rail, March 17-19 in Amsterdam, where many of
the most exciting new trains will be on display. For more information on
that exhibit, go to www.uic-highspeed2008.com ("IC HIGHSPEED 2008 follows
five successful editions of this congress under the EurailSpeed brand name."
Although I am not going this year, I was privileged in 1998 to speak at the  
EurailSpeed conference in Berlin.)

Finally, NARP Director Rick Harnish reports that The Midwest High Speed Rail
Association is planning a similar trip June 21 through July 1 that will also
allow time for sightseeing. Email rick.harnish@midwesthsr.org for details.

--NARP Executive Director Ross Capon

by asdf on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 12:05:29 AM EST

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