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


Like a mirage dashing throughout the dusty desert outdoors Pueblo, Colorado, the primary hydrogen-fuel-cell passenger prepare within the United States is getting warmed up on its check monitor. 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 top of the 12 months.

The greatest solution to decarbonize railroads is the topic of rising debate amongst regulators, trade, and activists. The debate is partly technological, revolving round whether or not hydrogen gas cells, batteries, or overhead electrical wires supply one of the 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 check. To some, it represents the way forward for rail transportation. To others, it seems to be like a giant, shiny distraction. Read the total story.

—Benjamin Schneider

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

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