By Ben Schiller
According to the Association of American Railroads, freight trains are four times more fuel efficient than trucks, with 75% fewer carbon emissions for the same distance (it has a handy calculator here, if you want to plug in a few actual journeys). The video above shows off some new diesel locomotives that General Electric says are particularly efficient, using "11% less fuel than the existing locomotive average in North America."
The train--which goes from Bradenton, Florida, to Jersey City, New Jersey, over 32 hours--carries 5,400 tons of Tropicana, in 41 cars. That's a jalopy half a mile long. GE points out the train can carry the equivalent freight of 170 Boeing 747s (not that you would ever fly that much juice), and that each engine has the equivalent horsepower of seven Nascar cars (which means nothing to me, but sounds impressive).
GE says the train fits into its concept of an "industrial Internet"--where previously unconnected parts of the industrial system are brought into one big sensing, computing, and analytical network. From its press release:
Every five seconds computers inside the high-tech cabin collect gigabytes of data like GPS coordinates of the train's location, speed, and mechanical performance. The engine can feed the data to a central brain located at a railroad headquarters that blends it with information like train schedules and open tracks. The system can turn a vast rail web into an "intelligent" network that helps pick the best train speed and route and improve track capacity. Such [an] "industrial internet" can save a railroad operator millions in fuel costs through better scheduling and engine and car utilization.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.