by guest blogger Stan Thompson
Unless you have access to Dr. Who’s TARDIS or H. G. Wells’ Time Machine, you’ll have to depend on old texts to envision William Murdoch’s 1784 steam locomotive debut in Britain or Peter Cooper’s Tom Thumb, the first locomotive to run in America.
But if you can afford an air ticket to Asturias, the colorful northern Spanish principality on the Bay of Biscayne, you’ll be able to buy a ticket and ride on the world’s first hydrail train and experience rail history up-close and personal. If I can scrape up the cost of the trip, that’s an experience I wouldn’t miss.
A Taiwan science museum was the first to ride people regularly on fuel cell rail equipment. Japan built and tested two different hydrail trains late in the last decade, though neither was placed in revenue service. That’s a shame; they would have come in handy when the tragic tsunami interrupted grid power and brownouts occasionally stopped trains far inland.
Last November China “successfully launched” a “new energy fuel cell light-rail train” but the English language People’s Daily Online release makes no mention of plans for putting hydrail into revenue service.
But the Spanish meter-gauge train built by FEVE, the national narrow-gauge rail operator that I wrote about on October 10, 2011, will be selling fares to the general public and I hope to be waiting at the head of the ticket window line on Day One.
The last I heard, Day One had not yet been announced. But, given the wide coverage (in Spanish) on the Internet and the RTV España television coverage online, I’ll bet there are enough hydrogen economy disciples in the world to keep FEVE’s Series 3400 tranvía de hidrogeno booked-up with tourists for weeks before the queues get short enough for locals to try out their own historic innovation.
The hydrolley segment is about seven minutes into the program, with a short teaser at the beginning.
My prediction: the hydrogen train in Spain will usher in a whole new trend in tourism as we hydrailfans begin flocking to such openings wherever they occur around the world.