In many ways, the rail industry is far ahead of the “net zero” path. Electrification – when combined with low-carbon energy sources – means that large parts of the grid are already carbon-free. However, railway engineers are not resting on their laurels, as evidenced by the many sustainability-focused projects highlighted this year.
Here are the five most read Professional engineering 2021 railway stories. Click on the links to read all the articles.
Hyperloop and maglev do not represent a real challenge for the “permanent way”
There is no shortage of articles proclaiming the benefits of Hyperloop and maglev transport, David Shirres wrote in this year’s most read article, but such features rarely get serious technical analysis. Rather than considering modes of transportation with unresolved safety, engineering, operational and economic issues, he writes that policymakers would be better off focusing on the many benefits of the “permanent track”.
Scrapping of the HS2 branch “a blow to low carbon recovery”
The government’s cancellation of a planned HS2 line between the East Midlands and Leeds is a blow to a low-carbon post-pandemic “recovery”, Shirres said last month. The additional capacity of the high-speed section would have eased the pressure on existing lines and allowed a shift from road to rail, he said.
The decision came “after it became clear that the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) programs as originally offered would have cost as much as £ 185 billion and only entered service early or mid-2040s, ”according to a government announcement.
Five companies aim to reduce emissions during construction of HS2
In one of three HS2-focused stories in this year’s top five, HS2 Ltd announced that it had signed five new small and medium-sized businesses into its “Innovation Accelerator” to help reduce carbon emissions. The rail project is committed to reducing the carbon impact of construction by 50%.
Lessons from tragic train crash could reduce risk of earthworks failures
A derailment in Carmont, Aberdeenshire, was the first fatal train crash in the UK since 2007. The August 2020 incident was the result of a failed earthwork, caused by a ridge drain submerged by three weeks of rain in just three hours. The lessons of the tragic accident could prevent further incidents, Shirres wrote.
Hitachi and Alstom to design and build HS2 trains in UK
A long wait for the news ended this month as the government announced that a joint venture between Hitachi and Alstom will design and build rolling stock for the HS2. High-speed trains will be built entirely in the North East and Midlands, at factories in Derby, Crewe and County Durham.
The £ 2 billion contracts to design, build and maintain 54 trains will support 2,500 jobs across the UK, the government has said.
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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.