Advantages and Disadvantages of the Electric Commuter Trains
Advantages of the Electric Commuter Train
The electric commuter train has the following advantages over other commuting systems:
Electric trains are powered by electric motors, therefore they produce no noxious fumes. However, power stations that supply the electricity to the trains mainly operate using fossil fuels. These do produce significant amounts of emissions into the atmosphere, although emissions from power stations are constantly monitored and improvements are being made to filter and treat most of the noxious fumes.
Despite this, the use of electric commuter trains can drastically reduce inner city smog and ground level ozone, through replacing other forms of fume emitting transport.
Smog is caused by the combination of exhaust emissions from diesel and gas engines although the major ingredient of smog is particulates from diesel exhaust. Sunlight and heat are also contributors of smog as is the ground level ozone.
Ground level ozone is formed by a chemical reaction between exhaust emissions of particulates (very small airborne particles), NOx (Nitrogen and Nitrogen Oxides) and VOC’s in the presence of sunlight. (Volatile Organic Compounds are a result of unburnt or leaking diesel and gasoline fuel.)
Most of us are familiar with the yellow-colored haze seen over our cities, especially on hot, calm summer days and have noticed cyclists using face masks to stop inhalation of these dangerous fumes.
Noise is also an environmental consideration and noise caused by diesel or gasoline engines can be wearing. The electric commuter trains are a lot quieter, producing less vibration.
A graph showing CO2 emissions comparing electric commuter train emissions to various other modes of transport is shown below. (Please click on graph to enlarge image.)
- Electric commuter trains are fast, cutting down the commuters traveling time, giving them more time at home.
- The trains are very efficient; the modern ones being as much as 90% efficient.
- There is less maintenance required for the electric commuter trains, as being electrically driven, there are less moving parts. Electric motors are a clean means of propulsion and are therefore easier maintained.
Disadvantages of Electric Commuter Trains
- Initial outlay is high, especially the running of the power supplies on or above the tracks.
- The electric motors and transformers are also expensive.
2. Danger of Electrocution
The electrical supply is at a high voltage and is transmitted through live cables or rails. This has led to some people being electrocuted, especially when taking short-cuts across the tracks.