Weather it be in the near or far future? When the price for oil is extremely expensive and diesel is no longer efficient. Or what about steam locomotives being put back in service? After all, to burn a fire you don't have to use fossil-fuels. All you need is a fire hot enough to boil water. Nuclear powered
Weather it be in the near or far future? When the price for oil is extremely expensive and diesel is no longer efficient. Or what about steam locomotives being put back in service? After all, to burn a fire you don't have to use fossil-fuels. All you need is a fire hot enough to boil water. Nuclear powered trains would be dangerous. But- the railroads could invest in their OWN nuclear power plants to power their own rail network. Instead of having a bunch of atomic bombs rolling around, lol. So what do you think?
Steam power is completely out of the question – quite apart from the fact that steam locomotives also burn fossil fuel, their thermal efficiency is abysmal, at around 10% tops.
It would seem to me that the USA – in particular – is treading a dangerous path. That the world has only a finite reserve of fossil fuels is indisputable, but how long it will last is a matter of debate. However, as supplies become more scarce the price of oil (and coal) will rise. The USA is heavily dependent upon its railroads for moving vast amounts of freight over much-longer distances than are the norm in most of the rest of the world, and on a railroad system that – apart from a few passenger lines on the eastern seaboard – is dependant upon oil fuel. America should be making a start on electrifying its railroads now. By the time oil prices start to rise, it will be far too late.
Steam definitely not. There isn't any way to get the fire hot enough without either burning fossil fuels or violating air pollution laws. (Burning wood makes too much smoke; it violates air pollution laws and builds up in tunnels, making it impossible to see or breathe.)
Electrification happens on some heavily used passenger railroads, mainly in the northeast, but it's not cost effective in rural areas. Installing all of the wire, etc., to get power to the trains would cost more than fossil fuels.
There are tens of thousands of miles of track in the US, so the $$$ involved to retro-fit anything to every mile of track would be astronomical. I haven't read of anything involving steam, but to generate the steam, you still need something to produce the heat. The efficency of the current diesel-electric locomotives is actually quite good, & I don't see anything challenging them for a long time.
Steam power is now completely just out of the question. The chances for this happening are virtually non-existent.
Don't hold your breath waiting for either prospect.