Dave Foster, Executive Director of Rail Solution, has published an article in Progressive Railroading that weighs the options for rail power abandoning diesel in the future.

Summarizing his introduction–

“Diesel fuel options being increasingly explored are liquefied natural gas (LNG) and electrification. Although the switch from steam to diesel generally resulted in less supporting infrastructure, either LNG or electrification would need vast new capital investment.  LNG requires extensive locomotive modifications, development of tender cars for LNG transport, new LNG storage, transport and servicing facilities, and raises unavoidable issues of safety regarding the handling and use of a high-pressure cryogenic liquid.  Electrification also involves huge, up-front outlays, mostly for catenary, but also for electric, or dual-mode, locomotives. One advantage, however, is the mature technology. Electrification is commonplace worldwide, except in America, so the equipment and best practices are known, proven and available.

Which option the rail industry selects will have a huge, long-term impact, perhaps even longer-lived and more important than the historic switch from steam to diesel.”

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