According to Buckminster Fuller, the invention of railroads occurred when seafaring people in the South Pacific needed a way to “land” their ships. A simple system of rails was developed with wheels attached to the underside of ships. With the extension of these rails, railroads were born.
IndustryTap has written “Solar Powered Trains Helping India Reduce Energy Costs” and “Harvesting Energy from Vibrating Railroad Tracks” and “GE’s Hybrid Locomotive Moves a Ton of Freight 500 Miles on a Gallon of Fuel” all of which illustrate that innovation in railroad engineering and technology is alive and well.
The field of railroad engineering is undergoing a major transformation as new types of railroad technology are developed. High-speed rails are just a few decades old and were mostly limited to Japan and Europe during that time.
China has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on its high-speed rail system in just the past decade and will spend hundreds of billions more as it expands its network nationwide and eventually to Europe. The US is gearing up to create its own high-speed rail network over the next two or three decades with the first line planned for a Nevada to California route.
Add to these the possibility of the emergence of Hyperloop technology, which Slovakia has already expressed interest in, and the world has a huge and vibrant industry centuries old but with its best days ahead of it.
This year, the Transportation Rail Board (TRB) is sponsoring the 2016 Joint Rail Conference: Railroad Engineering Technology from April 12-15, 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina. This event is attended by leading railroad companies, consultants, suppliers, and contractors. Some of the topics will include:
- current negative trends in right-of-way disputes and utility relocation
- improving boarding times so trains can get on their way
- all aspects of railroad civil, mechanical, electrical, and systems engineering
- railway safety, planning, design, financing, and operations
- railroad construction and maintenance
- railroad engineering
- future railroad services and rate offerings
- improving the longevity of locomotives
- making railroads more efficient and green
The following video shows a typical Transportation Rail Board issue, in this case, the expansion of the Virginia Beach Light Rail.