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Commercial Motor teamed up with Railways Illustrated to stage a “head to head” challenge pitting a truck against a freight train.
Mercedes-BenzUK laid on a flagship Euro 5 Actros 1860 MegaSpace 4×2 tractor unit, which was up against the latest GM Class 66 Train. Simultaneously departing from DIRFT (Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal) these two giants of the transport world demonstrated their individual strengths on the route north to Coatbridge Container Terminal, Glasgow. Road transport planners are always in the hands of other road users but there were no accidents or incidents to hold it back and the Actros, its range-topping 16-litre 600bhp governed to a 56 mph top speed, made steady progress, reaching Gretna Green services in four hours, 27 minutes. That was just three minutes shy of the statutory, four-and-a-half hours maximum driving period.  The truck then had to remain parked for 45 minutes, its single driver being more representative of typical truck operation than a double-manned cab. Meanwhile, the ?2-million train, its 3,245bhp, 139-litre engine capable of 75mph, was returning less than one mile per gallon and was on the second of the three sets of crew it needed for the same trip. Some 270 miles in, just south of Moffat where the rail line and M74 Motorway run parallel, Beattock Hill was reckoned by both parties to be the make or break point of the journey. Nervous tension set in as train and truck reached the top side-by-side and the combatants aboard made eye-to-eye contact for the first time. To reach the finish line the truck would still have to navigate the busy sprawl of Bellshill and the centre of Coatbridge. Commercial MotorManaging Editor Will Shiers, who made the journey aboard the Class 66, told Tachoblog, “I’m thrilled with this result, as it’s a resounding ‘thumbs up’ for road transport. Speaking to Tachoblog, Pip Dun,Editor of Railways Illustrated, added, “This test has proved very informative. 2015none2014none2013none2012CV Show Rescued By Isuzu Truck - Tachoblog Has The Story The long-standing reputation of Isuzu Truck within the rescue and recovery industry came to the fore at the recent CV Show in Birmingham.Unimog Off Road Action - And A Panzer Tank Too Says Tachoblog Tachoblog makes no secret of our love for the Unimog.
Read about the bizarre proceedings during the February 2012 budget estimate hearings in the Australian Senate. Although a leaked government report BITRE 117 on peak oil – comfortably calculated for around 2017 – is freely available on the internet, Minister Kim Carr refused to officially table it before the upper House of Parliament because it was “not up to scratch”. In the hearing we learn that the report was sent to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the OECD, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources and a number of “relevant” Australian government departments. This adjustment of discovery data (usually upwards) results in higher assessments of possible future production than the so-called ‘peak oil’ analysts.
Dr Dolman: There was one other criticism regarding the data used that it was from sources that were not reliable. The total production of non-conventional oil accounted for above amounts to 3.5 gigabarrels per year by 2030. Well, that is not a big difference and would not have much impact on the timing of a peak between 2010 and 2020. Coming ahead of an OPEC meeting on Thursday, one analyst said the two countries were in a “bidding war” over reserves, which is usually a consideration including other criteria such as production capacity when it comes to allocating quotas. These usually work towards reducing oil production with the potential to increase oil prices or even result in oil supply disruptions.
Mr Mrdak: We produce a number of draft reports which often circulate within government or key agencies and which of themselves might not be published. There is no mention here of BITRE 117 research, how that compares with the IEA World Energy Outlooks and Medium Term Oil Market Reports. Senator LUDLAM: Is it the view of the bureau that we have come into the age of peak oil or is it still your view that that is some years or decades away? The demand in OECD countries is declining because of high oil prices – caused by peak oil – and because of these countries involuntarily reducing their consumption. Dr Dolman: Some examples of the other work that we have done in this area include working paper 73, which looked at greenhouse gas emissions from Australian transport and made projections out to 2020. These projections were prepared at the request of the then Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO)—now the Department of Climate Change (DCC)—and update previous BITRE results provided to the AGO.
Assessing the likely degree of success, timing and scale of any such technical innovations will probably remain quite speculative for some time yet. The greatest specific uncertainty concerning the base case projections is probably whether there will be any significant disruptions to oil supply during the forecast period, with any consequent increases in fuel prices impacting on transport activity levels. Historically, Australian businesses and households have had access to inexpensive transport fuel as a result of relatively low global oil prices and low fuel taxes (by international standards).
Although this report contains a lot of valuable information, there is no peak oil analysis in this report either. If anything, the graph shows that growing fuel consumption will clash with constrained fuel supplies. The scale for the oil supply (LHS) has been adjusted in such a way that the intersection of the 2 curves is where we are right now.
The oil to GDP ratio and their annual changes are calculated on the basis of the IEA supply scenario and the GDP assumptions. The table 2 shows the results from solving the equation for the IEA high GDP scenario: the oil price in real 2009 US$ increases from US$ 85 in 2010 to US$ 116 in 2030. In the meantime, a little over a year after the paper was written and as the Senate hearing was going on, the WTI oil price was well above US$ 100. But if current uncertainties persist or a major supply disruption occurs, especially involving larger oil exporters, oil prices could remain high or even rise further, with serious consequences for developing countries and global growth. Under this scenario, oil exporting countries will see a gain in real income as prices of merchandise exports rise. GDP declines in oil importers reflect real income declines as the cost of oil and related goods and services rise.
In terms of external balances, current account balances as a share of GDP are expected to rise by up to 6.2% of GDP in oil-exporting Sub Saharan Africa, and by about half that much in the Middle East and North Africa. Under the same scenario, high-income oil exporting countries will see a fall in output, largely driven by adverse GDP impacts in Canada and the UK, whose non-oil exports are negatively affected by slowing global demand.
Global investment in energy supply infrastructure of $38 trillion (in year-2010 dollars) is required over the period 2011 to 2035. In a civilized country with a healthy economy, the two transport systems don’t have to compete; they should be in a fair competition, in order to ensure passenger and freight transport at reasonable costs, in conditions of maximum safety and with minimum impact on the environment.
Until 1990, the Romanian railways represented the main means of transport, taking over over 80% of the total volume of freight and passengers.
At the same time, the endless import of motor vehicles and the disloyal competition between the two transport systems causes even today road traffic congestion at national level, as well as a high number of accidents which result in deaths, wounded and important material damages. To that effect, a good example is the recent Summit held in Copenhagen, which was finalized with very modest measures and which didn’t take into account the agreements with legal power, because it is very hard to merge the interests of countries with different economic and social developments.
To that effect, by signing the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union promised to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2012, compared to the level recorded in 1990. The measures taken at international level and ensuring the priority of the railways were soon implemented.
The PARCEL INTERCITY (PIC) programme ensures container transport on the DB railway network, this eliminating road transport. The postal services in Germany, Denmark and Sweden use exclusively the railway system to carry packages. In Spain, due to the development of high-speed lines (3000 km) between Madrid-Seville-Barcelona, most passengers choose railway transport to the detriment of road transport. In the last few years, even the United States have started to promote high-speed railway transport in the industrial areas in the north-east and on the western coast, between Los Angeles and San Francisco and other such examples can be seen on all the continents. In Romania, in the context of the strong competition between the two transport systems, too little measures were taken in order to ensure a fair competition between the two competitors.
In this context, the railway network and the works made for the trackbeds, buildings and equipment are constantly degrading.
The Romanian railways and especially the superstructure made up of tracks, installations, sleepers and ballast, is over 30-40 years old, characterising the entire network as “old”. Lately, many derailments and train collisions were reported, which fortunately caused only material damage. The fact that, lately, no major catastrophes was recorded is mainly due to the efforts made by the personnel who, with very modest means, ensure traffic safety. Alarm signals related to the state of the transport systems were given only by the experts in the field.
All the analyses and the measurements made have to be preceded by the elaboration of various strategies concerning the future of the transport infrastructure (railway, road, air transport), which take into account determinant factors, Romania’s economic and social development, the demographic and tourist impact and the relations with the local and European region. In order to reduce the technological difference between the Romanian railways and the efficient railway administrations, major efforts should be made, both at decisional and executional level. Many heralded the opening of the High Line for its innovative reclaiming of a disused freight rail line as a public, open space.
While the deindustrialization of cities like New York has accelerated over the past fifty years, our awareness of the consumption of environmental resources has grown: we can now evaluate all commodities through terms like carbon footprint, locally sourced or eco-friendly. Joshua Nelson oversees freight rail operations at the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
I do planning and policy for the city with respect to freight rail operations and development.
When people think of freight transportation, they often think of container ships, which is what we call intermodal containerized service. Before intermodal, you had to unload the ship by hand, break bulk, and then get that cargo into a boxcar.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between cargo that terminates in the Port of New York and New Jersey, 100% of which is trucked to these distribution centers, and cargo that passes through the port.
The Staten Island Railroad opened in April of 2007 and, for all intents and purposes, has been a huge success. The Port Authority and the City partnered and put $72,000,000 into the rehabilitation of the railroad in order to create direct access to the Howland Hook container port facility and also to the newly constructed Staten Island waste transfer facility in the Fresh Kills area.
Then in the Bronx, the City maintains a relatively short spur that leads to the Hunts Point Produce Market. The cooperators of the market like rail because it’s cheaper by a significant price differential, but not all products can handle the long transit time. The third of the City-owned freight rail assets, in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, is what we call the Brooklyn Waterfront Rail system — and I think this is the most exciting piece of the freight rail puzzle right now. What do you wish people understood better about freight rail and why it’s important for New York? I think that the more that we can encourage rail freight activity, the more transportation options small businesses will have and the more competitive the city will be. I think in some cases it means expanding infrastructure, but it also means maximizing and leveraging what you already have. Joshua Nelson is an Assistant Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation specializing in freight rail transportation. Footer TextUrban Omnibus is the Architectural League's online publication dedicated to defining and enriching the culture of citymaking.
The pilot and development phase of Urban Omnibus was made possible by the Rockefeller Foundation. The purpose: to prove in real-life operating conditions, which mode of transport could deliver the goods to their destination in the quickest time. Having already had one change of personnel at Crewe, it was forced to stop for pathing at Tebay, before heading on to Carlisle for a third and final crew change. The train, meanwhile, could peel off, leaving those aboard to enjoy the spectacular Lanarkshire countryside.
I’m a huge supporter of both forms of transport and although my heart is with rail, I believe each has its place; indeed, in many ways they compliment each other.
Capital Hill in Canberra seemed to be more remote than ever from the reality of oil related conflicts in the Middle East, just a couple of tanker weeks away. Top bureaucrats said that a peer review showed weaknesses in the methodology of the report, without being able to present readily available written details to the inquiring Senators and without explaining why the report was not re-submitted after considering the criticism in the peer review – which would have been the normal procedure.
The government doesn’t like peak oil and therefore doesn’t want the general public to know about it. Usually such estimates produce an upper maximum production envelope, depending on the ultimate assumed discovery. However, the referees pointed out that there were a number of weaknesses in the report, things that it did not cover adequately. The projection of the International Energy Agency (IEA 2006, p97) is for non-conventional oil production to reach 9 megabarrels per day or 3.3 gigabarrels per year by 2030. Since 1998 the IEA is well aware of OPEC’s overstated oil reserves but the IEA estimates just ignore it regardless. There are occasions when the peer review demonstrates that a report is really not up to scratch. If high oil prices were to unlock unconventional oil, then this is not in line with climate change action. The growth in demand in China and India, for instance, is being offset by shrinkage in demand for oil within OECD countries. I will ask Dr Dolman to elaborate, but certainly the bureau has undertaken a range of work in the area of transport energy around fuel prices, transport emissions, projections and so on.
We have done information sheet 30, fuel consumption by new passenger vehicles in Australia; report 124, road vehicle-kilometres travelled, estimations from state and territory fuel sales. They were current in 2007 but to present WP 73 to the Senate – 5 years later – as a report which is now more relevant than BITRE 117 is a stretch. The above graph shows how slowly average fuel consumption for the whole fleet is declining over the decades. Inexpensive fuels combined with prevalent patterns of urban development have been key factors behind the high level of car ownership and extensive use of trucks for the national freight task. The coefficients on the right hand side of the equation have been obtained from a regression analysis of historical data starting in 1972.
These have been obtained  by multiplying 1.542 (constant over 20 years) with the respective SDR oil prices of 55 in 2010 and 75 in 2030. But it was not explicitly mentioned to the Senators although this would have been absolutely vital as the assumptions on decreasing oil to GDP ratios require substantial improvements in the overall efficiency of oil use. The income effect will be strongest where exports represent a large share of GDP and the export basket is less diversified (for example in Angola and Nigeria). This will raise inflation and interest rates, which lowers lower demand, reduces competitiveness, and as a result, output declines. Excluding these two countries, the impact on the remaining advanced oil exporters is positive. These notions are not two antagonistic problems, as one may think, but they represent, in fact, a false dilemma.
We have reached a situation in which, in certain days, the number of deaths and wounded on our country’s roads exceed even the body counts of WWII.
On September 12, 2001, the European Commission adopted the “White Paper – European transport policy 2010”, a document which stipulates the promotion of railway transport.
Hence, the THALYS programme eliminates flights between Paris, Brussels, Koln and Amsterdam and introduces high-speed trains, which reduce CO2 emissions by 7000 tonnes every year. In most European countries, including our Hungarian neighbour, combined container transport and the so-called “rolling road” (RO-LA) which ensures the transport of trucks in international traffic have begun to develop.
This measure also generated the creation of remarkable art works, such as ORESUND (between Denmark and Sweden) or the modernisation of the transalpine tunnels, which significantly reduce road traffic. Stating that the revenues of the two State-owned freight and passenger transport companies decreased because of the low number of customers, CFR SA received State subsidies that cannot even ensure a minimal survival! The number of dangerous areas has significantly increased and the means of intervention – if  and where they exist – cannot be used because of the lack of funds necessary to pay the service suppliers, the fuel, power supply and spare parts. Of all the elements that make up the superstructure, the poor state of the railway tracks, installations and the sleeper fastening elements generate a high level of concern. This should alert the decision-makers, seeing as this old railway network carries not only goods and assets, but also human lives.
The mass-media reports periodically the negative aspects regarding road and railway transport.
Its abandonment was due, in part, to the rise of interstate trucking since the 1950s, along with changes to the economic geography and industrial practices of New York and its food industries. We sat down with him to help shine a light on some aspects of the supply chain that might not be topics of everyday conversation. This means I make sure that the city has options when it comes to rail freight transportation and that there’s competition in the city among different freight rail carriers. There are some other alternatives, like inland waterway movements, but by and large, it’s rail versus truck. So, here in New York, we’re constantly working with all of our freight rail partners to make sure that the businesses that do receive services from the railroads are getting what they need.
If that boxcar was terminating in a place where there’d be a truck trip to a final destination, then all those goods would have to be unloaded manually and put into the truck. It’s the last vestige of this huge network of barges and tugs that used to be owned by all the private freight rail carriers in the city. According to a 2004 report by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, which is our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, freight rail’s share of the cargo flow is right about 1%. Most goods don’t travel from port to the end user immediately; it’s not like it goes from a boat straight to your local Target. Approximately 10-15% of the cargo that enters the Port of New York and New Jersey on its way to, say, Chicago, Cleveland or St. That way, someone who doesn’t have a rail spur right into their building or their backyard can nonetheless pick up their goods by driving a truck, say, a mile and a half into Brooklyn, rather than moving their goods hundreds of miles by truck entirely.
The container port really relies upon on-dock rail service and, of course, the Department of Sanitation definitely benefits from being able to export the waste by rail as opposed to truck. This line is important to us, and to the cooperators of the produce market, because it provides an alternative to truck. What’s left of these networks is some trackage between 29th and 65th Streets to the west of 1st Avenue in Sunset Park.
They’ll be bringing in import vehicles via deep-draft ship and using the Marine Terminal area as a distribution facility.
In a lot of cases, when we talk about the proposals for the 65th Street Rail Yard and the 51st Street Rail Yard to develop these transload facilities, this is land that the City owns that could be utilized in a much more robust way. Ongoing support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, the membership and board of the Architectural League, and readers like you. When you have goods to move, which is quickest?  UK Magazines Commercial Motor and Railways Illustrated decided to find out once and for all with a novel challenge worthy of Top Gear.

They also claimed that the report was fed into the Energy White Paper (EWP) process, although the draft of the EWP released in December 2011 neither mentions BITRE 117 nor presents a modified or improved version based on the results of the peer review.
For instance, according to the referees, it underestimated the influence of oil price and enhanced recovery techniques, which would mean that there would be more oil produced at higher prices than the draft report looked at.
In fact, the report then fed into work such as the energy white paper and the like that was undertaken for the government.
It shows that the government is unable or unwilling to handle the simultaneous double challenge of peak oil and global warming. That work manifests sometimes in formal publications, sometimes in papers delivered at conferences and sometimes in contributions to other processes across government, but it is certainly true to say that we have done considerable work in that area.
We have a forthcoming report, which will be number 127, looking at traffic growth in Australia.
The report was initially developed and put out for peer review, but subsequent to that there have been other reports that now make it irrelevant.
In fact it states – half year after BITRE 117 was complete – that detailed modelling on oil supply constraints would be required. The model would have at least to look separately at oil producers, net exporters, net importers, OECD and OPEC as well as Chindia and a group of other developing countries.
Countries with close economic ties to oil exporters (for example those in Europe and Central Asia) tend to be affected less as they will benefit from higher export demand from oil exporters. Also in East Asia and Pacific, the outcome for oil exporters is negative, due to Malaysian non-oil exports being adversely affected by falling global demand (once again, excluding Malaysia, the net GDP impact is positive). Lately, due to the so-called priorities regarding either the construction of new highways or the development of more efficient railway lines, these two notions only generate excuses and motivations that lead nowhere.
Another aspect strongly debated, but for which no measures are taken, is represented by climate pollution. But just because the city no longer conveys freight via rail through the West Side of Manhattan does not mean that our city no longer has the need for the kind of hard infrastructure that moves goods cheaply, efficiently and reliably from point A to point B. When we think about infrastructure, the benefits of commuter mass transit are well-known, but we often fall short of extending the same logic to the transportation of goods. Since he’s one of the only people working on these issues at the municipal level, we wanted to know exactly what his job entails, in order to peer into the city’s complex networks of transportation logistics. I also do asset management work with the city’s three separate facilities that we own.
He worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad in northern Utah and now works for the Union Pacific Railroad.
Instead, you just put everything in one container that stays closed and is picked off that ship, put directly onto a railcar, and taken to wherever its final destination is in the middle of the country. It was extremely costly and the multiple “touches” always led to the potential for damaged goods.
Because of the lack of bridges across New York Harbor, these railroads actually put rail cars onto the barges and used tugboats to deliver them to pier sheds all throughout the city, and also to interchange with other railroads. Often, goods move from the port facilities to a distribution center, many of which are off exits 7 and 8a on the New Jersey Turnpike, and also in Eastern Pennsylvania. The city really lacks those kinds of facilities, and we think it’s important to develop them. The trackage formerly belonged to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and, later, CSX Transportation. Now the City can shift its solid waste disposal out of Staten Island while retaining a significant number of jobs connected to solid waste disposal industry on the Island. Five days a week, about 3-4% of the produce in the market comes in by rail as opposed to truck. It’s a system that was all under private ownership until the Port Authority bought it in 2008, and it is in need of significant capital upgrades. It’s less a question of building railroads or building new infrastructure than it is about bringing everything to a state of good repair and then marketing the facilities we have to utilize them to their full potential. Joshua received a BA and BS from the University of Utah and holds both a Master of Science in Transportation and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We have also published a number of staff papers principally through the Australian Transport Research Forum by a number of researchers.
It a well-known fact that railway transport causes a level of pollution 10 times lower compared to road transport. The measurements made periodically using the EM 130 R diagnosis unit show significant track wear, in some places even exceeding the normal limit. Freight trains might not be the most efficient thing that comes to mind, until we start comparing them to the trucks that dominate our distribution networks. Trains don’t just get people to work, they also get potatoes to the grocery store, scrap metal to the recycling plant and they just might help keep our city competitive in environmental, economic and infrastructural terms. The City has rail assets in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, at the New York City Terminal Produce Market in Hunts Point in the Bronx, and then the Staten Island Railroad (PDF) on the western shore of Staten Island, which was rehabilitated in 2007 by the City and the Port Authority. So I grew up loving transportation, but never fully realized I could make a career out of it. First, there is the technological advantage: a locomotive pulling a train of 100 rail cars can be operated by two individuals, an engineer and a conductor. But replacing 300 tractor-trailers with one or two locomotives is obviously going to provide a net benefit in environmental terms. While containerization in the maritime industry had its origins in the late ’50s, the intermodal revolution on the rails has really come about in the last twenty years, alongside the booming trade with China. Everything gets consolidated in these big distribution centers, and then trucks take the goods from there to make deliveries throughout the city.
In recent years, the only customer was the Proctor & Gamble facility at Port Ivory, on the northwest shore of Staten Island. And, besides saving money, the railroad eliminates about 90,000 truck trips, on average, from our roads every year. The City is very focused on expanding the Produce Market and giving the cooperators what they need to continue to provide the valuable services that they do to all the restaurants, bodegas and grocers across New York City. Another tenant is Sims Metal Management, which is building a municipal recycling facility in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation and they want to be able to ship out repurposed recyclables by rail.
But at the same time, they want a huge variety of consumer products when they walk into the store, and they want cheap prices.
In Romania, due to the reduction in the industrial activity, the chemical pollution is due mainly to the excessive use of the personal motor vehicles. After getting into urban planning in college, I found work in traditional transit planning. Overall, the big advantage is rail’s ability to transport a lot of stuff very cheaply over a very long distance.
Southern Pacific Railroad introduced the first double-stack container car in the late 1970s, which made handling intermodal containers extremely cost-effective for the railroads. After Proctor & Gamble ceased operations there, the City acquired the right-of-way with the intention of reactivating the rail line. So those are two totally different kinds of operations: one ships out recycled tin cans and baled waste for sale on the domestic commodity markets, and the other ships out shiny, brand new automobiles. I think freight rail, for New Yorkers, is a totally unseen part of life in the city that the average person doesn’t think about, but it’s definitely there. David Gargett has published one on petrol prices in Australia, which looks at some of those peak oil issues that you specifically asked about. Because of this phenomenon, the large urban agglomerations in Romania record a level of pollution so high that the decision-makers and the local authorities should be on full alert. So you need 300 trucks and 300 drivers to transport the equivalent amount of cargo as one 100-car train.
By the late 1980s, the technology was fully embraced by the railroads and intermodal really took off. The City also saw the route as a means of effectuating its 2006 solid waste management plan.
To date, the local decision-makers haven’t taken any measures to restrict road traffic, not even in the historical centres or during certain hours of the day. And after studying transportation planning in graduate school, an opportunity came up here, at New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, to work with freight rail. Freight requires a fraction of the labor, which translates into significant cost savings for the customer.
How come the Romanian authorities don’t imitate the measures taken in several European cities and take actions to restrict road traffic in certain days and areas of Bucharest, such as Calea Victoriei, or in the leisure areas of the citizens?
Most often, the planning functions associated with freight happen at the state level, not necessarily the municipal level.

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