Some of us look at electric trains as efficient transportation almost by definition, but that's not entirely true when they consume a lot of power and give little back. Amtrak is about to strike a better balance now that it's close to receiving the first of 70 high-efficiency Siemens ACS-64 trains destined for routes across DC, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. Each engine centers on a regenerative braking system that can recover up to 5MW of energy, much of which goes back to the power grid. The machinery is smarter, too: it can self-diagnose problems and mitigate the impact until repairs are possible. Commuters won't immediately notice the difference when ACS-64 trains reach the rails between this fall and 2016, but there should be important behind-the-scenes savings. Amtrak reckons that the new vehicles could lower energy consumption by 3 billion kilowatts in the long run, which might help both the company's bottom line and local utilities.
Filed under: Transportation