The Download: American’s hydrogen prepare experiment, and why we’d like boring robots

The Download: American’s hydrogen prepare experiment, and why we’d like boring robots

Like a mirage dashing throughout the dusty desert exterior Pueblo, Colorado, the primary hydrogen-fuel-cell passenger prepare within the United States is getting warmed up on its take a look at observe. It will quickly be shipped to Southern California, the place it’s slated to hold riders on San Bernardino County’s Arrow commuter rail service earlier than the tip of the 12 months.

The finest strategy to decarbonize railroads is the topic of rising debate amongst regulators, business, and activists. The debate is partly technological, revolving round whether or not hydrogen gasoline cells, batteries, or overhead electrical wires supply the very best efficiency for various railroad conditions. But it’s additionally political: a query of the extent to which decarbonization can, or ought to, usher in a broader transformation of rail transportation.

In the insular world of railroading, this hydrogen-powered prepare is a Rorschach take a look at. To some, it represents the way forward for rail transportation. To others, it seems to be like a giant, shiny distraction. Read the complete story.

—Benjamin Schneider

This story is for subscribers solely, and is from the subsequent journal challenge of MIT Technology Review, set to go stay on April 24, on the theme of Build. If you don’t already, enroll now to get a duplicate when it lands.

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