Love the train, hate the coal

To the editor,

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a bedrock in our community. Much of our town’s prosperity is due to the approximately 200,000 passengers per year it attracts. I am grateful for the firefighting efforts they have employed up to this point, costing them money and man-power. Due to our “exceptional” drought conditions, it clearly is not enough, not now and not for the future. The sparks emitted from the coal-powered engine and the carbon greenhouse gas emissions have worn out their welcome, the cost to the community too high. It’s time for a common sense, level-headed conversation about alternatives to power the train that are safer and cleaner.

Electric trains have been employed in Europe and Asia for years and can be powered by on-board energy storage such as a battery system or used in conjunction with other fuels. Electric locomotives benefit from the high efficiency of electric motors. Additional efficiency can be gained from a regenerative braking system on the downhill trip from Silverton. Amtrak has employed clean diesel electric engines in California. Clean alternatives do
exist. Al Harper: We love the train, we need the train, we can’t risk more wildfires.

– Susan Atkinson, Durango