Subject: FINISH CALTRANS RESEARCH Line-Haul and Passenger
Comment: Public Meeting to Consider the Draft 2022 Climate
Change Scoping Plan, June 23, 2022
June 23, 2022
by Phil Birkhahn, Co-Chair, Transportation Committee of San
Change requested p. 58, “Freight and Passenger Rail, Line
haul and passenger rail rely primarily on hydrogen fuel cell
technology, and others primarily utilize electricity”.
CHANGE “Hydrogen” to “Battery electric or
Hydrogen, depending on new analysis”, not analysis done in
Change requested, Appendix C, p. 4, Table C-1, “Line haul
and passenger rail rely primarily on hydrogen fuel cell technology,
and others primarily utilize electricity”. CHANGE
“hydrogen” to “ZEV” in all four
Someone sold CARB on hydrogen to power line-haul and passenger
trains. So, CARB wrote hydrogen fuel-cell technology into its
Draft 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan. Once there it will be
a coup for the vast hydrogen machine and very hard to get it
out. The hydrogen salesman succeeded in closing CARB’s
mind to the better alternative of battery-powered line-haul and
What’s going on here? Use of obsolete analysis of
battery power by CARB. Probably a constant contact campaign
by hydrogen advocates. Battery trains have no campaign, they
rely on State engineers to get things right. Nowadays, does
each technology require a multi-million-dollar public relations
campaign and legislative strategy?
This comment is the fourth in my series of comments about
Line-Haul and Passenger Trains in the Scoping Plan draft. The
others are (Comment numbers to be added after final assignment by
BATTERY NOT HYDROGEN
Give Batteries a Fair Chance
OBSOLETE CARB ANAYSIS
Deeply Flawed Analysis Perpetuated
EUROTRAINS NOT RELEVANT
CARB Misinterprets the Use Profile of Battery Trains in
Please refer to them if you have questions and send me your
comments and any additional information you believe should be
considered. Contact me for a consolidated version in PDF
format if you like: it includes copies of most references.
Up to September of last year, Caltrans had a research program
whose scope is to fairly assess battery and hydrogen powered trains
Caltrans Division of Research, Innovation and System
Information, September 2021, Fuel Cell Electric Bus, Battery
Electric Bus, and BATTERY ELECTRIC TRAIN Infrastructure: ZEV
Center of Excellence Task 3299.
Oddly, they report no information about battery electric trains,
although it is in the title. Instead, they are studying
hydrogen trains, not in the title, in a pilot project.
An interim report was published:
Caltrans Research Report, May 2021, Fuel Cell Electric Bus,
Battery Electric Bus, and Battery Electric Train Infrastructure, by
Peter Benoliel, Ph.D. Candidate, Plug-in Hybrid & Electric
Vehicle Research Center, Institute of Transportation Studies,
University of California, Davis and Gil Tal, Director, Plug-in
Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center, Institute of
Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, p. 14,
Zero-Emission Multiple Units.
At the time of the report, they had a pilot project in progress
in San Bernardino to run a hydrogen fuel-cell multiple unit.
They have no comparable pilot for battery-powered multiple-units or
trains with a single locomotive. Those pilots must be
completed before endorsement by CARB of any technology.
In other words, finish the Caltrans research with pilots of
Battery Electric Trains.
Zero Emission Heavy Transportation (ZEHTRANS) also went
astray. ZEHTRANS is a joint effort by state agencies
including CARB, Caltrans, California Energy Commission and Go Biz,
which has produced several slide shows about their decision
process. Sadly, they offer no new information beyond CARB
work in 2016 and shallow interpretation of specifications for
battery and hydrogen powered trains offered in Europe. Please
refer to my other official comments listed above for evaluation of
the basis for ZEHTRANS presentations.
Vehicle specifications list range of the vehicle, and battery
powered trains appear to come up short. That is only because
such trains with their small batteries are for tracks with overhead
electric cables alternating with unelectrified routes. The
trains charge while running under cables and use the energy for
Battery electric trains will have very long range once new
designs with the skateboard battery layout of electric cars comes
into use in railcars. Separately, other researchers at
Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and UC Berkley and Los Angeles
took an analytical approach. They found long-range available
with existing components, no waiting for the skateboard! For
details, refer to my other comments.