Tesla Locomotive

Disclaimer: this is not an article about an actual Tesla product (at least not yet; you never know what’s up Elon Musk’s far-reaching and ambitious sleeves). 

Imagine with me for a moment. There are no cables running above or alongside train tracks as currently with electric powered trains. There are no diesel laced clouds of exhaust as with current gasoline based locomotives (themselves a major improvement over coal powered engines). There is also no loud revving or idling; trains hum slightly when leaving a station and whir a bit but that’s all. 

If cars and trucks and now big rigs can make the shift to EVs, are trains far behind? Commuter routes are still out of reach given the need for longer ranges and quicker recharging times. Shorter shuttle-type routes like a run from parking lot to airport are more likely in the near term. However, as technology improves there’s a chance massive batteries in a locomotive may one day take you from home to work and back on traditional commuter rail lines.

Train Commute Wins Over Driving

Too bad that driving to work is a necessity in most of the U.S. I’ve been lucky enough not to drive to work since I worked at Safeway and interned for a Congresswoman in college. The Washington D.C., Tokyo, and New York metro areas where I’ve lived my adult life have their pros and cons, but the relative availability of mass transit (depending on exactly where you live and how much you try to make it a part of your daily routine, of course) is one of the pros in my book. 

Now that I’ve spent my working life commuting by a train of some sort, I really can’t imagine going back to driving. Yes, there are delays and frustrations with track work and the infrequency of train runs, but I can use that “extra” time to read or write or email or sleep or write a post like I’m doing now. In a car I can’t do any of those while driving (could do podcasts though). How AI and fully driver-less cars will change the picture is a topic for another post, but right now for me there’s no beating the train if living in a major city.