Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Trains

Researchers from Stony Brook University have developed a device capable of harvesting ener...

Much of the abundant mechanical energy around us is irregular and oscillatory and can be somewhat difficult to efficiently tap into. Typical energy harvesting systems tend to be built for low power applications in the milliwatts range but researchers from New York's Stony Brook University have developed a new patent-pending electromagnetic energy harvester capable of harnessing the vibrations of a locomotive thundering down a stretch of track to power signal lights, structural monitoring systems or even track switches.  Read More

An elevated electric train in Holland (Photo: Shutterstock)

Electric commuter trains, while quiet and fast, have one glaring inefficiency – when they brake at a station, the energy of the moving train is lost, even when the motors are electrically reversed. Capturing the electrical energy generated during braking is simple, but efficiently redistributing it through the power grid is not. The result, in too many systems, is that the braking energy is simply wasted. Now an energy storage project in Philadelphia aims to capture and efficiently utilize that braking energy, providing a clear view into the potential of the forthcoming smart grid.  Read More

Terraspan's giant, 4,000 mph (6,437 km/h) vacuum tube train, which also doubles as a super...

In the 1800s, when pneumatic tubes shot telegrams and small items all around buildings and sometimes small cities, the future of mass transit seemed clear: we'd be firing people around through these sealed tubes at high speeds. And it turns out we've got the technology to do that today – mag-lev rail lines remove all rolling friction from the energy equation for a train, and accelerating them through a vacuum tunnel can eliminate wind resistance to the point where it's theoretically possible to reach blistering speeds over 4,000 mph (6,437 km/h) using a fraction of the energy an airliner uses – and recapturing a lot of that energy upon deceleration. Ultra-fast, high efficiency ground transport is technologically within reach – so why isn't anybody building it?  Read More

Locomotive 3463, the 75 year-old test bed locomotive for CSR's Project 130

You might think that a coal-burning locomotive built in 1937 had nothing left to offer the modern rail industry, short of being a nice museum piece. In the case of Locomotive 3463, however, that appears to be far from true – now in the hands of engineers from the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR), it is set to become the world’s first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive. It won’t be electric, however. Instead, it will run on steam generated by the burning of biocoal.  Read More

NTV Italo high speed train (Photo: NTV)

Nuovo Transporto Viaggiatori (NTV), a company founded by a group of entrepreneurs headed by the president of Ferrari, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, has unleashed twenty five luxury high-speed trains on the Italian railways. This makes NTV the first private high-speed rail network carrier in the country and the first company in the world to use the next-generation Alstom AGV trains. Although called “Italo”, the “Ferrari train” label seems to describe the racing red beasts somewhat more accurately. The thrill of traveling at high speeds in a Ferrari is soon to be available to anyone who can afford a train ticket!  Read More

A new radar system could be used to detect and identify objects that fall onto train track...

Although you may never have seen it happen yourself, it isn’t all that uncommon for large objects – including people – to fall onto the tracks at subway or railway platforms. While security personnel viewing CCTV feeds will catch some of these accidents, the cameras’ shots are sometimes obscured by people, poor lighting, or even the trains themselves. The results can range from lengthy delays in rail service, to fatalities. Now, however, researchers working on a project for the Université Lille Nord de France have developed a system that uses radar to automatically detect and identify objects that fall onto the tracks. When installed at a platform, the system could then shut off power to the tracks, and notify oncoming trains.  Read More

China's latest experimental train is 200 km/h than bullet trains running in the country no...

China's state press agency, Xinhua, reports that the country's largest rail vehicle maker has debuted a six-car train more than twice as powerful and 200 km/h (124 mph) faster than the high-speed models currently in service between Beijing and Shanghai. The new electric test train can draw a maximum of 22,800 kilowatts and is reportedly capable of reaching speeds as high as 500 km/h (311 mph), making it one of the fastest trains ever designed for commercial passenger use.  Read More

About 4,000 trains per year - or the equivalent of a full day's worth of Belgian rail traf...

The roof of a two mile stretch of tunnel over Belgium's high speed rail line has been fitted out with 16,000 solar panels to provide power for trains running through Antwerp Central Station and the surrounding railway infrastructure. Solar solution provider Enfinity says that about 4,000 trains per year - or the equivalent of a full day's worth of Belgian rail traffic - will be able to run entirely on solar power generated by the installation.  Read More

The T-box concept would be installed between railway sleepers, and would harness the wind ...

As anyone living near railway tracks will tell you, speeding trains generate quite a bit of wind as they whoosh past. Industrial designers Qian Jiang and Alessandro Leonetti Luparini have come up with a device that's installed between the sleepers on a track, and as the train passes overhead, the wind drives a turbine to generate electricity. The T-box devices could be placed along railway or subway lines, and make good use of an otherwise wasted resource.  Read More

Gas turbine model train looks (and sounds) incredible

Developed by Hidepon Works, this train is about as bad-ass as model trains can possibly get. It's powered by a gas turbine engine, thus giving it a very noisy and very sexy jet-like sound as it prepares to "take off" on its run. We took a closer look at Make Fair in Tokyo.  Read More

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