Bombardier JetTrain

Looks like I missed another week of this blog. Things have been quite busy lately with work and personal affairs. Anyway, moving on so I can actually write about trains on this thing now.

This week I bring you a locomotive I got the honor to touch with my very own hands at a undisclosed location. Unfortunately she never came out of experimental stage due to funding (which really was the lack of willingness to progress our public transport system). This locomotive continued the very concept of very early experimental high speed trains, including the UAC Turbo, the Advanced Passenger Train, and the Train à Grande Vitesse 001. So you've probably pretty much figured it out, it's the Bombardier JetTrain high speed turbo-electric locomotive.

The JetTrain locomotive on display in Calgary, AB
From the outside, the JetTrain shares the same shell and trucks (including traction motors) with the power car of the Acela Express minus pantographs. Rather than overhead power catenary or a hefty diesel engine, the JetTrain locomotive is powered by a 5,030 shaft horsepower PW150 gas turbine, usually found on turboprop planes. A small diesel engine is used for HEP (head end power) and traction at low loads (low speed and empty) to address problems with turbine efficiency at low engine speed. Electrical energy is generated by a traction motor of the Train à Grande Vitesse in reverse of normal generation (not a regular alternator from a diesel-electric probably due to the high rotational speed of the turbine). The gas turbine weighs a mere 882 lbs. (vs. say 20,000 lbs. typically for a diesel engine). As a result, the entire locomotive weighs only 215,000 lbs. (over 50,000 lbs. lighter than a P42DC). Like the Acela Express, the JetTrain locomotive has a top design service speed of 165 mph and intended service speed of 150 mph.

Cab of the JetTrain locomotive

Today the JetTrain locomotive sits peacefully at a test location, probably never to be revived. Gas turbine powered locomotives is certainly a great concept to achieve true high speed without the expensive and restrictive infrastructure required for electrification, especially in a continent where the vast majority of passenger miles run on leased trackage. The very limited operational experience and possible maintenance complications could still render these locomotives prohibitive for general adoption although in theory, gas turbine powered locomotives should only be easier to maintain and more reliable.

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