Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

The New Green Mini-Train – But Why The Hell Put A Bus On Rails?

The grand new idea to beat climate change is to put a bus on railway wheels. Which does seem odd because if we’re to use a bus why not, well, why not use a bus?

I am not exaggerating what is being done either:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Trains no bigger than a single-decker bus could be rolled out across Britain under plans to cut emissions and reopen branch lines.[/perfectpullquote]

What problem does a train no larger than a bus solve?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The government is funding trials of an “ultra-light”, environmentally friendly train powered by gas from organic waste in place of a conventional diesel engine.[/perfectpullquote]

Any form of diesel engine that we can put in a train we can also put in a bus. Thus we can use the same fuels in the same ICE engine in a bus or a train.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It is hoped that the new generation of trains will make it far easier to operate small loss-making branch lines.[/perfectpullquote]

Why would we want to do that? Trains being on fixed point to point routes, buses being capable of more variation.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Its units are less than 10m long, weigh 12 tonnes, carry up to 60 people and have a top speed of 40mph,[/perfectpullquote]

That really is what we call a bus you know.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The technology would be applied to bigger trains capable of carrying between 90 and 120 people and reaching 60mph.[/perfectpullquote]

That would be two buses.

There is no problem that is being solved here by using a 19th century technology such as railways. All we’re doing is making the same transport volume and route more expensive. Seriously, at least the diesel driven omnibus is a 20th century technology….

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Q46
Q46
2 years ago

But such ‘diesel bus’ trains existed in the 1960s, they are nothing new. Sometimes two cars attached otherwise, just one car. But then they were replaced by electric, because… During the 1970s, I think, they experimented with single deck buses which also had retractable railway tyres. The bus/trains could operate as buses to collect people locally, then go to the station, drive over the track, lower the train wheels, retract the road tyres and use the rail track. Environmentally friendly: where will the organic waste come from, what is the cost £ and environmental in collecting it and processing it?… Read more »

Tim Almond
Tim Almond
2 years ago

If you’re really into the “green” thing, it’s not about faffing around with biofuel or electric. OK, they’re nice, but really big saving in CO2 is getting people out of cars and onto buses or trains. You get a reasonably full bus, it’s about 2-3 as efficient as a person driving a car on their own. Going from diesel to electric improves this by less than 10%. And this matters because if you’re going to do this, you need it to be cheap and practical. You need people deciding that getting out of their cars is worthwhile. And trains mostly… Read more »

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Almond

Do you get ill more often mixing with the plebs or do you build up an immunity? Bonus points if you are without rugrats and so don’t get immunity from them.

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Almond

This is the sort of decision making that results from having a CO2 tax, which for practical purposes exists for short road journeys ( short meaning that air travel not an alternative ).

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Almond

I used to drive into Oxford, but the new train service from Chiltern means I can get there just as quickly and (with a railcard) for less than the cost of parking. And I arrive in the city centre rather than a park-and-ride in the sticks, where I may have to wait 30 mins for a late bus back.

Sadly, I expect this is the exception rather than the rule.

Tim Almond
Tim Almond
2 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

That’s great for you, but what’s it costing?

Matt
Matt
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Almond

Chiltern is one of two rail franchises where the premium paid by the franchisee to the DfT is greater than the cost to the taxpayer of maintaining the railway in its patch (SWR is the other one). So nothing.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
2 years ago

Yea gods, they’ve been trying to kill off Pacers for decades, the damn things just keep coming back from the dead.

Davidsb
Davidsb
2 years ago

Well, at least there aren’t any council idiots trying to install tram routes….. oh, wait…..

;¬)

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
2 years ago

What problem does a train no larger than a bus solve?

Since the whole Green hypothesis is a fraudulent scam, there i no point basing any argument – for or against – on it.

The advantage of a train is that it carries large numbers of people from point to point inside cities with no traffic delay or congestion. Which makes it ideal for commuting, and has enabled suburbs to grow up around cities.

A small sized bus/train will not carry so many. But it will still retain the advantages of timeliness and point to point people delivery without congestion.

Tim Almond
Tim Almond
2 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

But what if you had a road that only buses went on? That would still have no congestion (except from other buses).

And these are roughly the same size as a bus. So they don’t carry any more passengers.

Plus, with buses, you have a competitive market which lowers fares.

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Almond

But what if you had a road that only buses went on?

Then it would be a waste of space inside a city. In a city, every square foot is precious.

So you would want to make this ‘single-use’ road very thin. Perhaps single carriageway. And if it was that thin, then you might want to buses to run in guides so that they don’t veer off the thin road….

And then you have a railway….

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