15.2.17

A NEW BIG BLOW FOR WESTERN SIBERIA.

The Russian Railways are testing a new, liquefied natural gas fueled, gas turbine electric locomotive.


Sinara Group photograph retrieved from European Railway Review.

The turbine locomotive is Russia's latest attempt to move American style freight trains across greater than American style distances, starting with the Egorshino–Alapayevsk–Serov-Sortirovochny line. I doubt that there are any roads like the old Lincoln Highway across Nebraska for pacing the trains. "The locomotive has been designed to drive trains with increased weight and length. In May 2016, during a test run, the GTh1-002 drove a train weighing 9,000 tons on the 700km Surgut–Voinovka route without the need to refuel en route."

That's the same rationale that drove the Soviet railroad system to contemplate the 4-14-4, and Union Pacific to roll out a fleet of gas turbines.

But Union Pacific never put a control cab on the tender of its 8500 horsepower (later upgraded to 10,000 horsepower) turbine sets.


The turbine set, and the Centennial series diesels that replaced them, are in preservation at the Illinois Railway Museum.  These days, if you want the oomph to move a Powder River coal train, a pair of 4400 hp diesels with alternating current drive can get the job done.  They might be too big and too heavy to fit Ivan's rails.

Union Pacific did operate one double-ended turbine locomotive of 4500 hp, at the time that was the same power as a three unit set of Electro-Motive or Alco freight diesels.


The problem with any turbine locomotive is that the power plant is only efficient at full power and cruising speed.  Trains cannot be brought to cruising speed as rapidly as jet aircraft are.  We'll see how well this Russian experiment, cleaner-burning fuel or not, works out.

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