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Ex-Ford engineer Richard Parry-Jones is now chairman-designate of the UK's Network Rail. Having looked into the futures of both car and train development, he believes that by the end of this decade the most Earth-friendly internal-combustion engine cars will be about as polluting, on a per-passenger basis, as high-speed electric trains.

Parry-Jones says carmakers are targeting 40g/km of CO2 tailpipe emissions by 2020. If the "average" occupancy of 1.6 people-per-vehicle stays the same in eight years, that would equal 25 gm per person per kilometer and put such cars in the same environmental category as the cleanest mass transit.

Since the emissions of electric cars and trains is usually given as zero, we're assuming he means diesel-electric high-speed trains; life-cycle emissions wouldn't be a valid comparison since those aren't factored into a car's tailpipe number. According to The Guardian's table of emission numbers by transport, right now you'd have to load four folks in a small diesel topped up with ultra-low sulphur fuel to get down to 42 grams per passenger per kilometer (gpkm), which would put you right with one of Virgin's Voyager class diesel-electric trains at 75-percent capacity. If you want to go all the way low, though, you'll need a 50cc two-stroke and a passenger: at that point you're rocking just 19.5 gpkm. Slowly.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 38 Comments
      solas
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well, that's no surprise if trains don't evolve either. What we want is well-to-wheel efficiency - that is required to expose the ugly truth about most trains (most = a lot in the US): they are the most inefficient method of transport. What they might gain in a bit of aerodynamics .... is completely lost in the fact that their weight can be orders of magnitude more, per passenger. Studies in the Chicago area, I believe ... If one compared the energy spent on some of these old rails compared to ... placing every single passenger in standard ICE car of their own and driving, the energy spent by the entire fleet of cars was less than the train. Switching to electric is great, but: what is the well-to-wheel tax (per passenger)?
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @solas
        Weight matters less and less with constant speed. True, higher weight does cause a bit higher rolling resistance. But with proper suspension and the fact that steel wheels on steel tracks have low resistance... that weight does NOT cause much loss per mile. Weight DOES kill efficiency when you have to accelerate (then, decelerate to accelerate again). It is not so much the train itself... it depends very much on the route. Constantly stopping to pick up passengers? Slowing down for crossings? Distance between terminals? Don't blame the trains, blame the layout of inefficient tracks.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Since it was an ex-ford engineer making this remark, don't you think you should've used a photo of a Ford vehicle instead of a General Motors vehicle? Or were you just trying to bitch slap the Ex-Ford engineer? How can you get 1.6 people in a vehicle, and wouldn't a train with both an ICE and an electric motor be called a hybrid and not an electric? The last time I pulled up the skirt on a electric car, it didn't have a tailpipe or a gas tank. I could be wrong, but I think seeing a tailpipe would be a dead give away that it would not be an electric I'm looking at.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      They must be looking to build velomobiles with 100cc engines and regenerative braking if they want such low carbon emissions. The bigger the vehicle, the heavier it is, the faster you go, the more power you use, thus the more carbon you emit if your power source is carbon containing fossil fuels. The internal combustion engine is 20-30% efficient. Has been for decades. It excels at making heat and smoke. Unless they're talking about a 100% efficient internal combustion engine ( impossible ), then they are talking about velomobiles. Of course i am likely overanalyzing this and it's just a load of bull not worth thinking about.
      Wrangler Unlimited
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would have used a picture of the cleanest car for the last several years, the Honda Civic GX. The Volt isn't close to the top.
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Since the emissions of electric cars and trains is usually given as zero" The "zero emissions" of an all electric system is a crock... The electricity does not magically appear, it is generated by a power plant and that is a direct emission, just like the engine in a hybrid! (that needs pro rated as gm/passenger km) Also, mass transit has other huge green house gas emissions is the form of: 1) Digging huge tunnel systems and moving huge amount of fill dirt (prorate over the life of the structure plus emissions caused by maintaining it) 2) Unless the hundreds of employees live on the train, their commute pollution needs pro rated as gm/passenger km 3) The stations, offices, maintenance facilities all consume power and needs pro rated as gm/passenger km
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Robert, Asphalt roads are made of oil. Calculate that one in.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        Wow, i've never heard anyone adding the cost of laying down rails and hiring people into the equation. Then you equally need to add all the maintenance that roads need every year. Add what it costs to drive to the DMV and smog station. Add what it costs to maintain the car, including the cost of power that all the repair shops use. Have fun with those calculations!
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Meh. Like that woman tat said no one was ever successful on their own, because government delivered the mail. With rat logic, one could look at the environmental aspects of cement and asphalt. At some point, we have to draw the line. Yes, power plants have some sort of impact, more or less depending on type, but even the oldest can be upgraded. Upgrade one plant and all electric vehicles improve. Install a nifty filter on one Ford Excusion and...meh.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Below I mentioned the same thing to solas. Both modes of transport consume direct traction energy and indirect energy for stuff as new build and maintenance, cleaning (both for vehicle and infrastructure!), lighting, traffic guidance, administration, the whole lot. But most energy is consumed for traction.
      Anne
      • 2 Years Ago
      What disgusting PR nonsense. 120 g/km is the real-world well-to-wheel emissions of a Prius. And you Mr. Parry are seriously telling us that car manufacturers are going to make cars that are 3x as efficient? In a mere 8 years? Dream on, I don't buy it.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Anne
        Surely it is double-triple that for non-hybrids of similar size. And the well to the pump emissions keeps increasing since oil is getting harder to get at, requiring more processing, etc. Mr. Jones is asking for a miraculous increase in the internal combustion engine's efficiency. Like a 3x increase in efficiency. Either that or we are talking about velomobiles :)
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          smiling...thinking, 'Yea PR, this is a bunch of your disgusting nonsense!' (yes, I know what she meant...)
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Anne
        Anne don't get your panzy in a twist nothing that is happening on this planet from here on makes much impact anyways. The environmental fate is alrdy seal, so we could get 20time more efficient tomorrow, you're all still gonna die for what happened 20 years ago. People that think efficiency matters anymore are just fooling themselves, once the crust is forced into it's new place the pollution will be reduced by 99.993% as only 1 in 14,000 will remain to roam the planet. I get the feeling your niavity won't be joining me. So chill out and enjoy your next 20 month.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Public transport is also not as energy efficient as it is cracked up to be once occupancy rates are taken into account. Where it really makes sense is where congestion is a problem, as it uses road space much more efficiently.
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        This research from Belgium suggests that average CO2 emissions from public transport in Belgium (grid average 250 g/kWh due to nuclear) are 53 g/passenger km. This includes trams, subways and buses. For buses alone it is 97 g/km tailpipe, a bit better than the average car, but worse than a Prius (with an average occupancy of 1.4). http://www.mivb.be/irj/go/km/docs/STIB-MIVB/INTERNET/attachments/publications/studie_co2logic_internet_NL.pdf
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        In the Netherlands, trains transport people for about 80 Wh/km. About 3x as efficient as a LEAF. Both with average occupancy factored in.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @Anne, "On the contrary, trains and cars exist for exactly the same purpose: to transport people and goods." More specifically, autonomous travel is primarily done by cars, buses and subways (not the diesel-electric discussed here). And this Autonomous travel of 1 driver (plus maybe family/friends) going exactly where they want to go has many more differences than it does similarities with point-point mass transit of the trains discussed here. It is an over-simplification to only say, " to transport people and goods. "... inasmuch as it would be to say that forklifts and cargo ships exists for the same reasons. -- "You could just as well be arguing that average fuel economy calculations are useless because they vary wildly. In my Prius for example, between 0 l/100 km (when I'm coasting) or 30 l/100 km (when I'm accelerating). Never mind my pulse and glide behaviour." You make a good point, but also prove mine. With any "average" calculation... there exists "error bars" denoting the deviation from that average. If the error bars are significantly large, the whole thing is said to be statistically inconclusive. In the US, we have the EPA conduct standard tests to measure fuel economy under a variety of conditions (Europe has similar standards). The tests are divided into highway and city.. and those numbers are BOTH mandatory because to combine them in as single test would provide an average with too large of an error. *The combined MPG is provided only when the city/highway MPG is also given*. Hypermilers (as you described) can get higher than standard deviation, but the Vast majority fall within reasonable limits. THIS IS WHY individual coasting and acceleration MPG numbers are not necessary. Another example ( http://green.autoblog.com/2012/04/16/ucs-no-matter-where-you-live-driving-electric-saves-money-emi/ ) is a just recently published study comparing Well-to-Wheels efficiency of BEVs against Gasoline vehicles. But since Upstream emissions from electric power generation varies TOO Wildly (large error bars) depending on region (some states are 97% coal fired, some are 2%)... the study divided the statistics by state power profiles. And thus, and like dividing MPG into city and highway, got reasonable results. My argument is simply that unless you divide the statistics by specific, regions (even with a country), train carriers, lines, etc... or combinations of those... any "average" you may think you have is actually "statistically inconclusive". Both Prius MPG city and highway MPG averages are better than the Hummer... but for diesel electric trains, without dividing statistics into appropriate sub-categories, there is no clear way to make statements that either Trains or Cars are more efficient.
          solas
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @Anne, that is certainly a large reference section. That's more than I needed, so thanks (I asked for math, not your references -- I was happy to blindly accept your 80 Wh/km metric) So here's what's wrong: 1) You've taken what appears to be *real* data on electricity spent on the public transport, and compared it to the EPA rating on the Leaf, which is, quite simply, not real data. It represents a random mix of highway/city -- useful? perhaps, but: how does that map against a train? It does not without talking specifics, apples-to-apples driving locations and possibilities. My numbers are from real/true data, for example, an urban/commuter scenario of 4 local people. Here, the Leaf matches your train, easily. This is an equally valid scenario. 2) It is quite obvious the Netherlands trains are well used (see DaveMart's worry above) in terms of occupancy. You've included in your comparison current *human* behavior/driving habits: that is, what is the *current* occupancy rate of a car ... that is a flawed comparison. Which part or your single X is more efficient than Y claim is is "this machine is X more efficient than Y machine" (fundamentals) and which part is "no one is using this machine X ... how inefficient it is because we're running it all day long..." (usage habits)? The latter can be changed without changing the vehicle. It must be kept separate.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Hi Anne. The figures you have are so wildly different to those I have seen that I can't comment without looking at the sources. Here are the type of figures on which I base my comments: http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/david-mackay.htm 'In contrast we found that, system-wide, Network Rail returns the equivalent of only 94 passenger-miles per gallon (32 kWh/100 pass-km), see http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/transport-fact-sheet-5.htm. Hence, the actual fuel efficiency of national rail is 20 times less than Dr M’s “full” train - little better than an efficient diesel car operating at 60 mpg in uncongested conditions with the national average of 1.6 people aboard.' And: 'The difference, an astonishing factor of 20, between our calculations and Dr M’s assertions arises mainly because (a) over a week or year the average UK train, far from being “full”, has only circa 20% of the seats occupied and (b) only 36% of the energy in power stations reaches the trains.'
          solas
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          That's just not true - show your math. A LEAF can achieve 6.7 km/kWH ... if you factor in *standard occupancy* - what the hell is that? let's assume 50%, the LEAF has TWO people at least, not one ... giving: 74.5 Wh/km, per passenger. What is true: clearly Neatherlands does have better trains, not unlike Sweden.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Just realized that the total figure given for energy consumption in rail transport INCLUDES cargo. I'm not now gonna hunt down that figure, but it lowers the Wh/passenger km for the train, reinforcing the notion that the train is ~2x as energy efficient as the LEAF. YMMV, for other countries different numbers may apply. Everyone should look up those numbers for his/her own country.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @Davemart @Davemart, “and means that if you load the family up in the car and go on holiday you use less, or perhaps about the same, as you would going by train, not to mention the increase in convenience.” Will there suddenly be more trains scheduled because Davemart goes on holiday with his family? Of course not. The incremental energy use of a train due to a few more passengers is negligible. The train would win hands down. Also to consider is that international trains have limited capacity, you need to make reservations. The consequence is that they have higher occupancy rates. But what if a 1,000,000 families took the train? Then there would be more trains, yes, and increased energy consumptin. But you can also expect that they have a higher occupancy and thus lower energy consumption per passenger km. And if these 1,000,000 families would buy a LEAF? Well, the would not be using it just for the holidays, would they? They'd be commuting in it, or shopping, or visiting friends. And that would bring the average occupancy down to . . . 1.5. So, I would not venture too much in these kind of what-if scenarios, they easily get distorted by subjective choices. As I have shown, the difference is a factor of 2, which is not really that much. I am not trying to convince anyone to take the train because it is more energy efficient. Or lambasting anyone that it is morally wrong to drive an EV. That is an individual choice that everyone has to make for himself. I just want the figures to be clear. I am more in favour of nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission is sooooo 20th century ;) About 5 kW of PV panels on my roof enables me to harvest enough energy from the big fusion reactor in the sky to offset the energy use of an electric vehicle. My roof is large enough for that, so I simply compensate for the extra energy use.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @solas 1) First of all, the EPA rating of vehicles is slightly on the optimistic side, so using that instead of real world data favours the LEAF. I think you can not complain about this. Average occupancy of the car is ~1.5 persons, average occupancy of the train is ~30%. Maximum occupancy of the car is 5 persons, of the train 120% (happens in rush hour). What you are doing is picking the maximum occupancy of the LEAF and comparing it to the average occupancy of the train. That is not apples-to-apples. So you either pick 1.5 and 30% OR 5 and 120%. The choice is yours. I can tell you it won't make a lot of difference to the outcome. The train will still be about 2x energy efficient. Theoretical scenarios are nice, but they do not represent the real world and open the door to all kinds of subjective choices, as you are demonstrating. By sticking to real-world data, I evade the subjective choices that tilt the playing field towards any of the two options. 2) I do not understand at all what you are trying to say here. Please explain better. I said: "YMMV, for other countries different numbers may apply. Everyone should look up those numbers for his/her own country.YMMV, for other countries different numbers may apply. Everyone should look up those numbers for his/her own country". I'm curious, did you look up the numbers for your country? Can you share the outcome.?
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Thanks for the figures, Anne. Since I don't read Flemish I am pretty well at a stand, but the figures for the Netherlands and the UK do not seem to be reconcilable. Of course, comparison is made more difficult as most trains in the UK are diesel, whereas most or perhaps almost all passenger rail it electrified in Holland.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Davemart, Correct. The Dutch railway network is nearly 100% electrified. That makes it easier to do these kind of calculations and make meaningful comparisons between electric cars and trains. Comparing apples and apples. That's what we want.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @Joeviocoe “Trains and Cars exist for VERY different reasons... and are not to be compared.” On the contrary, trains and cars exist for exactly the same purpose: to transport people and goods. Many individuals have a choice: “do I buy a car or do I travel mostly by using public transport”. Very often it boils down to an either/or choice. Since once you have a car, it is cheapest to use it as much as you can. Public transport can simply not compete with the variable costs of a car. This is especially true for an EV that has such low energy costs. There are many factors that people take into account when making the choice: what do I like more, what is convenient, how quickly does it get me to where I want to go, how much does it cost me. And yes, there are people that also factor in environmental aspects like energy use. Based on the data that I presented, they can decide what the energetic consequence of that lifestyle choice will be, unless they are a real exception to the rule and know beforehand that their car will be travelling with on average 3 or more people in it. “You can even claim that on Tuesday morning, a train is more efficient than the Prius... and on Sunday night, that same train is less efficient than a Hummer. Which why it is completely absurd to even talk about efficiency based on occupancy. “ You could just as well be arguing that average fuel economy calculations are useless because they vary wildly. In my Prius for example, between 0 l/100 km (when I'm coasting) or 30 l/100 km (when I'm accelerating). Never mind my pulse and glide behaviour. The empty trains and full trains are part of the same system and it works because they both exist. Without the empty trains, people would experience a degradation in the service and choose to buy a car instead. But these people would then stop using the train altogether and the consequence would be that the full trains would become more empty. The average occupancy in the long term would stay the same. By the way, it is in general preferred to use public transport on off-peak hours, when average occupancy is low. So in your example, it would be better for the efficiency of the system (as a whole) to take the train on a Sunday night than on a Tuesday morning. And you have just been arguing that on a Sunday night, energy consumption might be that of a Hummer. Counterintuitive, isn't it? I think you should always judge the system as a whole, how it performs to deliver the service that society wants from it. And everybody using that service in one way or another shares a proportional part of the energy that it uses.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @Anne: 'Will there suddenly be more trains scheduled because Davemart goes on holiday with his family? Of course not. ' Yep, for sure they schedule more trains when there is a holiday rush on,, and for all sorts of reasons. I don't really see that we have any substantial disagreement, our ball-park figures are pretty close. A factor of around 2 in efficiency still leaves plenty of room to determine that in particular locations private transport may be more energy efficiency than public. 'I am more in favour of nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission is sooooo 20th century ;) About 5 kW of PV panels on my roof enables me to harvest enough energy from the big fusion reactor in the sky to offset the energy use of an electric vehicle. My roof is large enough for that, so I simply compensate for the extra energy use.' Let me know when you have built a fusion reactor. Not only is it decades in the future, but the Tokamac design has not the remotest chance of ever being commercially viable, and the billions thrown at it have just provided for nuclear scientists to carry our pure science in luxury, on a non-stop junket. The notion that churning out solar when it ain't needed in some way offsets your use is quite fallacious. Solar at high latitudes simply means that gas has to be burnt in great quantity and inefficiently to provide power when it is actually needed, unless of course you don't run your car in the winter. It would be a different matter if you lived in Arizona, as diurnal variation can be covered with storage batteries and so forth, but annular variation can't. Our energy choices in the real world are nuclear fission or fossil fuels. There is a subsidiary choice if fossil fuels are opted for. They can either be used relatively efficiently and cheaply, of used to support hopeless renewables, which is much less efficient and puts the costs of energy into the stratosphere. Here in the UK there are around 50,000 'excess winter deaths' per year. Putting utility bills through the roof for everyone including poor people to pay for huge sums going to the relatively well off to install solar on their roofs and giving them feed in tariffs etc will doubtless increase that toll. You need power when you need it, not some time in June. Offset is a nonsense.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          This is a fools errand! Trying to compare apples to Jupiter. Average Occupancy varies WAY TOO WILDLY based on WAY TOO MANY variables to be statistically relevant to make any valid point. Does it make sense that politics could change the "efficiency" of trains? For example... Strife between Israel and Iran cause a speculative supply shortage of Middle East petroleum exports. As gasoline prices in the U.S. rise in response (global market pressure) consumers drive less and take public transportation more as it is much cheaper per mile. Airline tickets cost more, so instead of flying the take trains more. Hence, train occupancy goes up... and the "perceived efficiency" of this whole stupid argument goes up. You can even claim that on Tuesday morning, a train is more efficient than the Prius... and on Sunday night, that same train is less efficient than a Hummer. Which why it is completely absurd to even talk about efficiency based on occupancy. Trains and Cars exist for VERY different reasons... and are not to be compared.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @solas The dutch railway operator produced ~17 billion passenger km in 2010. Source: http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/bestanden/documenten-en-publicaties/rapporten/2011/10/28/mobiliteitsbalans-2011/mobiliteitsbalans-2011.pdf (page 35) Total electricity consumption for the rail network (including offices, stations, lighting, etc): 1.5 GWh. Of that 0.9 GWh was traction energy. Source: http://www.ns.nl/over-ns/wat-doen-wij/ontdek-ns/wetenswaardigheden/afval-en-energie.html#elektriciteit 0.9 billion kWh / 17 billion passenger km = 53 Wh/km or 1.5 billion kWh / 17 billion passenger km = 88 Wh/km The EPA puts the electricity consumption of the LEAF at ~34 kWh/100 mi = 213 Wh per km. Surprisingly, it was hard to find a definitive number for the average occupancy of a car in The Netherlands. I calculated with 1.4 but it is probably a bit higher. The most recent figure I could find was from 2002: 1.56, with a declining trend). Let's use 1.5. The electricity consumption per passenger km is then 142 Wh per passenger km. Source: http://www.cbs.nl/NR/rdonlyres/C4F2679C-3877-4D97-BEE9-E1206B1C99D6/0/pb03n100.pdf Now, I mentioned two figures for the railway transport energy consumption. Which one is reasonable to use? Do you include consumption for stations (including shops and snack bars), lighting, workshops for maintenance and repair, washing, etc? Most of these non-traction energy consumers have car equivalents (public lighting, petrol stations, garages, lease companies, fleet management) The calculation then starts to get really murky. But in all, I think the 2x is a reasonable estimate.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Oops, that should be 2x as efficient, forgot to convert miles --> km. :(
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Hi Anne Actually a 2:1 energy efficiency differential for the Leaf and an electric train is not too bad, and means that if you load the family up in the car and go on holiday you use less, or perhaps about the same, as you would going by train, not to mention the increase in convenience. Being a 'Duke Nukem' I am not too bothered with using a tad more energy anyway, providing it is electric, as an energy flow of around 1.5kw per person should be enough to run society. Electric cars have the advantage of course that unlike electric trains you would mostly be charging overnight, off-peak. BTW the original analysis on which I based my comments, and stupidly did not bookmark, dealt with buses as well as trains, and buses are surprisingly inefficient as load factors outside of peak travel are pretty low. That is why I am interested in systems which use lighter minibuses, computer controlled and summoned by phone so they can be door to door: http://www.taxibus.org.uk/ Smaller vehicles are easier to optimise for load factor.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @solas: It is not altogether clear who you are replying to, as no one actually gave the figures for the Leaf. Just the same, to look at your figures, and taking the Leaf as doing 4 miles/kwh, that is around 6.45km Average occupancy is exactly that, ie the number of people in a group of cars divided by the number of cars, given in my link above as 1.6 ie counting in single occupancy vehicles every two cars have an average of about 1.5 people in them, so you might have one with two people, and one with just the driver. Anyway, you come out to about 10km/per occupant mile, or 100wh/km That however is not counting losses from power stations, so on most present grids you would use roughly 300wh/km before generating and transmission losses. A litre of diesel contains about 10kwh of energy, and the link I gave put refining losses at 10%. I won't run through the Wh/km calculations, as it depends on how many kilometres you reckon you can get out of a litre, but you are in the area of 400wh/km or so. The big difference IMO is that if you use nuclear as France does the generating losses don't really matter, whereas oil is in limited supply and every drop used is important, and for Europe, imported.
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      So are these new cars going to become as roomy, as comfortable and as fast as high speed electric rail? Personally I find kicking back in a recliner and reading a book on a long distance train trip more enjoyable than spending hours behind the wheel, cramping up and fighting fatigue when driving on the interstate.
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        How unAmerican that sentiment is! We been trained all our life by auto manufacturers to think the American Dream includes the desire to spend hours behind the wheel as enjoyable.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Good point Paul Westerberg. EV cars and EV trains are very good matches to each other. Getting on a train when it is appropriate for long trips certainly takes the worry about trying to recharge your EV car on a trip. Use an EV car for local trips, and for going places the train doesn't. Sounds like a perfect match of technologies.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a fools errand! Trying to compare apples to Jupiter. Average Occupancy varies WAY TOO WILDLY based on WAY TOO MANY variables to be statistically relevant to make any valid point. Does it make sense that politics could change the "efficiency" of trains? For example... Strife between Israel and Iran cause a speculative supply shortage of Middle East petroleum exports. As gasoline prices in the U.S. rise in response (global market pressure) consumers drive less and take public transportation more as it is much cheaper per mile. Airline tickets cost more, so instead of flying the take trains more. Hence, train occupancy goes up... and the "perceived efficiency" of this whole stupid argument goes up. You can even claim that on Tuesday morning, a train is more efficient than the Prius... and on Sunday night, that same train is less efficient than a Hummer. Which why it is completely absurd to even talk about efficiency based on occupancy. Trains and Cars exist for VERY different reasons... and are not to be compared.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        I don't really get your point. Average occupancy is as useful as any other averaged statistic, no more, but also no less. Occupancy rates don't vary wildly all over the shop, as you imply, but are fairly stable, for the very obvious reason that, for instance, a solitary commuter is very unlikely to change with increased or decreased prices to start car sharing and so on. What actually tends to happen with large fuel price increases is some give up the car for commuting, and go by bus or bike etc with the remaining car occupancy rates fairly static, No doubt like any other average very large changes in conditions would alter it, but that is true of just about anything, and average occupancy rate data for both private and public transport is an essential tool extensively used in all aspects of traffic management. In crowded cities like London public policy for many years has been to try to increase average occupancy rates so as to use road space more efficiently, but success has been limited and heavily resisted.
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