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Analysis of GHG Emissions for City Passenger Trains: Is Electricity an Obvious Option for Montreal Commuter Trains?

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DOI: 10.4236/jtts.2013.32A003    5,664 Downloads   8,243 Views Citations


Alternative technologies have emerged to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of traditional commuter rail systems powered by diesel. Even larger reductions can be obtained with energy production from renewable resources. This paper uses the commuter rail system in Montreal, Quebec, as a case study for implementing alternative technologies, namely, complete electrification of the network (only one of the existing five lines is electrified) and hydrogen fuel cell-powered trains. It is important to note that the main source of electricity generation in Quebec is hydropower which is offered at a relatively low cost. Several criteria were considered to determine the most suitable alternative including GHG emissions from operation and fuel production, operation and capital costs, and technological and commercial viability. Electrification of the commuter rail system would decrease annual emissions by 98% which is more than 27,000 tons. The GHG reductions for hydrogen trains are lower than electric trains but still substantial. The operation costs favor the electrification scenario; however, the high costs of electrical infrastructure make hydrogen trains more competitive since additional infrastructure is unnecessary. However, hydrogen trains remain a new and unproven technology; uncertainties associated with it should be settled before full implementation.

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S. Chan, L. Miranda-Moreno and Z. Patterson, "Analysis of GHG Emissions for City Passenger Trains: Is Electricity an Obvious Option for Montreal Commuter Trains?," Journal of Transportation Technologies, Vol. 3 No. 2A, 2013, pp. 17-29. doi: 10.4236/jtts.2013.32A003.

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