Bombardier Transportation has been awarded the prestigious German Design Award for its ZEFIRO 380 very high speed (VHS) train. The train, currently being manufactured in China and Germany, can travel up to 236 mph (380 km/h) and employs advanced aerodynamics and other technologies to reduce energy consumption.
“All of Bombardier’s expertise and experience gained from building more than 850 high and VHS trains in the past two decades has been invested in the development of this next generation vehicle,” stated the company. The German Design Award is the third prestigious design award for the ZEFIRO 380, which also took home the German iF Product Design Award and the Chicago Athenaeum’s 2011 Good Design Award.
The ZEFIRO‘s design draws on Bombardier’s extensive research into the aerodynamics of trains. The train has superior cross wind stability, aerodynamic drag, and pressure pulses, all of which contribute to increased fuel efficiency. The train also uses Bombardier’s unique aluminum carbody, resulting in reduced weight while remaining fully compliant with safety requirements.
Other innovative developments include Bombardier’s Thermo Efficient Climatization System and the BOMBARDIER EBI Drive 50 Driver Assistance System, allowing ZEFIRO trains to sport the lowest energy consumption per seat of any VHS train.
High speed trains have the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions by making train transportation, which consumes less energy than car commuting and airline travel, more attractive to travelers. Harvard Economics professor Edward L. Glaeser calculated that every 240-mile train trip (the distance between Houston and Dallas) eliminates 113 pounds of carbon dioxide emission per passenger.
While high speed trains travelling 185 mph (300 km/h) and faster run in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and the UK, the US has been slow to adopt high speed rail technology.
The United States has only one high speed rail line in operation, the Acela Express, which runs from Washington D.C. to Boston by way of New York. While the train can run up to 150 mph (241 km/h), it only averages about 78 mph (125 km/h), a paltry figure compared to its European and Asian counterparts.
California’s proposed Caltrain line, running 800 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco, will be the first true high speed rail line in the US, topping out at 220 mph (350 km/h). The first leg of the project was approved by the federal government in mid-September.
The Midwest is also considering a high speed rail line that experts estimate would be three times as energy efficient as cars and six times as energy efficient as planes. The rail line would operate out of a central hub in Chicago and serve several surrounding cities including Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee.
Still, the US is several years away from competing with other advanced economies on high speed rail, so Americans will have to travel overseas to ride Bombardier’s ZEFIRO 380.
By winning the German Design Award in the transportation and public space places category, the ZEFIRO 380 achieved the distinction of being among the top nine products from 1,500 top quality nominations covering all kinds of vehicles, navigation systems, and urban/street fittings.
Harry Stevens is a freelance reporter covering climate change, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and sustainable finance. Harry has contributed to several media outlets, including Justmeans, GreenBiz, SocialEarth, and Sustainablog. You can follow Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Stevens…