walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

trains, electrification, unit train transport of coal, Japan, BC...


This is kind of wild, actually. In 1981, Japan's steel industry needed coal so they had BC build an electrified branch line and there was a ten year commitment and blah blah blah. The price of coal went down, the contract got renegotiated, some people went out of business, a mine closed, blah, blah, blah. Coal went back up eventually and the mine reopened.

I'd be hard pressed to tell you what lesson if any could be learned from this (predicting inflation and currency fluctuations is hard, knowing what will happen after two fuel price spikes is hard, etc.), but wow. Those were some heavy trains being moved via catenary. Through some serious mountains. Actually, I guess there is a lesson to be learned: if Japanese and Canadian railroad designers get together and try to figure out the cheapest _overall_ way to build a railroad (in the first place, and when running it afterwords, so capital and operating together), you wind up with something weirdly wonderful.
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