Train - Motive Power

Motive Power

The first trains were rope-hauled, gravity powered or pulled by horses. From the early 19th century almost all were powered by steam locomotives. From the 1910s onwards the steam locomotives began to be replaced by less labour intensive and cleaner (but more complex and expensive) diesel locomotives and electric locomotives, while at about the same time self-propelled multiple unit vehicles of either power system became much more common in passenger service. In most countries dieselisation of locomotives in day-to-day use was completed by the 1970s. Steam locomotives are still used in a few where coal and labour are cheap, most notably the People's Republic of China. Steam powered Heritage railways are operated in many countries for the leisure and enthusiast market.

Electric traction offers a lower cost per mile of train operation but at a higher initial cost, which can only be justified on high traffic lines. Since the cost per mile of construction is much higher, electric traction is less viable for long-distance lines with the exception of long-distance high speed lines. Electric trains receive their current via overhead lines or through a third rail electric system.

A recent variation of the electric locomotive is the fuel cell locomotive. Fuel cell locomotives combine the advantage of not needing an electrical system in place, with the advantage of emissionless operation. However, the initial cost of such fuel cell vehicles is still substantial at the moment.

Read more about this topic:  Train

Famous quotes related to motive power:

    He is the best sailor who can steer within the fewest points of the wind, and extract a motive power out of the greatest obstacles. Most begin to veer and tack as soon as the wind changes from aft, and as within the tropics it does not blow from all points of the compass, there are some harbors which they can never reach.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)