It seems like just about every cause has a day, week, or month dedicated to it. Last month I mentioned Home Farming Day, as well as our favorite, Earth Day. These “celebrations” are one way to raise awareness about an issue or topic. Just the other day National Train Day came across my radar. Find an event in your area. Until June 9th, kids ride free with the purchase of an adult ticket on Amtrak trains (terms and conditions apply). Tickets must be purchased before National Train Day.
As part of Amtrak’s 40th anniversary, National Train Day has a section on its site touting train travel’s “green” aspects. Here is an excerpt:
Passenger rail travel is 20 percent more efficient than airline travel and 30 percent more efficient than automobile travel (Footnote 1). Since 2003, Amtrak has cut its diesel fuel use by more than 5 percent while increasing train frequencies on many routes. In the Northeast Corridor, where most trains already run on electricity, solar panels have been added to power 50 track lubrication systems. Services between Boston, New York and Washington use electric locomotives, which can use regenerative braking. This is when the braking friction generates electricity while slowing the train. The resulting electricity can then be returned to the power grid through the overhead wire. Approximately 80 percent of the electric fleet uses regenerative braking.
Amtrak is also taking steps to reduce the use of petroleum products, [improve] efficiency and [reduce] air emissions by:
- Reducing the amount of “idling” time of diesel locomotives
- Conducting a 12-month trial on the Heartland Flyer service (Oklahoma City to Fort Worth) using 20 percent biodiesel (beef tallow)
- Employing bio-lubricants in hydraulic systems
- Using lighter and more aerodynamic vehicle carriers on the Auto TrainÂŽ
Footnote 1: U.S. Department of Energy, Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 29, 2010