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Valley Link rail will be powered by hydrogen

Uploaded: May 18, 2023
Come 2024 and 2025, the final plans for the Valley Link rail line should be set and construction should commence on the 42-mile rail line linking the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station with San Joaquin County cities.

The Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group threw a “lunch and learn” event at Shannon Community Center in Dublin to highlight its commitment to operating rail cars powered by hydrogen. As participants made clear, it’s the best choice and they expect the technology to continue to improve.

Currently, 105,000 people commute daily over the Altamont Pass and Interstate 580 is jammed as early as 4:30 in the morning until about 9:30 a.m. on weekdays.

Kevin Sheridan, head of Valley Link, pointed out that electrified trains running up the Interstate 580 median would involve major environmental and operational hurdles so that meant finding another fuel. The current Union Pacific trains and the ACE trains operate with diesel engines, but the board did not want to go there, even using a more environmentally friendly diesel. He also pointed out that the freeway is about as wide as is possible and commuter buses will be parked on the freeway right beside motorists. That’s a key reason that the $1.86 billion rail link makes sense, plus it will provide much more frequent trains than ACE and have the BART connection to bring riders into the core Bay Area.

With hydrogen the fuel choice, Valley Link is working with Stadler US, a division of the Swiss multi-national rail car company. It has already tested its hydrogen train for more than 1,000 miles in Europe and anticipates more than 2,000 miles when it enters service in San Bernardino County, said Kaden Killpack who manages that project in Southern California.

To supply the hydrogen, Linde North America is planning a manufacturing plant in Tracy that initially will supply 5 tons per day. Valley Link is expected to use 3.5 tons so it will have capacity to fuel other trucks. Given the abundance of distribution centers in San Joaquin County and the state mandate to eliminate diesel-powered tractors, I suspect there will be no issue finding a market.

Wladimir Sarmiento Darkin, business development director for Linde, said his company’s biggest challenge will be rapidly scaling up its manufacturing sites to meet demand that he expects to soar.
The same could be said for the electric vehicle charging stations as well as major improvements to PG&E’s old grid.

While on the subject of traffic on I-580, work is underway for the temporary fix for the eastbound lane that slid away in the heavy storms. That work is expected to be finished within two weeks and the design for the long term fix is underway with construction expected to start in two months.

One of the alternative commute routes, Tesla Road, has been closed since the torrential rains. John Medlock Jr. of Alameda County Public Works said workers were able to stabilize the road with 1-ton boulders and it should re-open next week.

Meanwhile, work on fixing the slides into Shadow Cliffs on Stanley Boulevard has started. The contractor is working 10-hour days, six days a week with a target of completing the cellular concrete bank by June 10.

Medlock pointed out that the county has 19 repair jobs coming from the atmospheric rivers that pounded Northern California, about three times more than occurred in the winter of 2017.
Democracy.
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Comments

Posted by Beatrice Miller, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 18, 2023 at 9:47 am

Beatrice Miller is a registered user.

Will it be safe for passengers to travel via Valley Link as it will be running on hydrogen gas?.

Some of us are old enough to remember the Hindenburg which effectively put an end to using highly inflammable hydrogen for transportation purposes.


Posted by Griffin Roget, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on May 20, 2023 at 10:00 am

Griffin Roget is a registered user.

Wasn't the Hindenburg some sort of blimp? The differentiation between blimps, dirigibles, and zepellins has never been quite clear as all of them are lighter than air airships.

I can not believe that Valley Link is going airborne given the congested airspace in the SF Bay Area.


Posted by Tiffany Taylor, a resident of Danville,
on May 21, 2023 at 10:04 am

Tiffany Taylor is a registered user.

@Griffin Roget: If you read the article, it references an additional rail link. Now whether that link extension will be based on the ground or partially airborne has not been clarified.

It should be noted that there are weight limitations when attempting to suspend a passenger car via blimp and so an air shuttle blimp link service would be more practical but would most likely require FAA approval.


Posted by Cameron Lee, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on May 23, 2023 at 8:54 am

Cameron Lee is a registered user.

Are people in Contra Costa County this ignorant? This might explain why there are no noteworthy colleges or universities situated in this region except for the one in Moraga.


Posted by Alan Burnham, a resident of Livermore,
on May 23, 2023 at 8:58 am

Alan Burnham is a registered user.

I don't know if the replies were serious or poking fun, but Valley Link does not include air ships. An accident involving obsolete technology from nearly 100 years ago is not relevant. That said, only 35 of the 97 people aboard the Hindenburg were killed, in part because the lightness of the hydrogen caused the flames to rise quickly rather than engulf the passengers. Compare that to accidents with liquid hydrocarbon fuels that are heavier than air. Also consider that both gasoline and battery powered cars occasionally catch on fire spontaneously. There is no reason to consider hydrogen a more dangerous fuel if the system is properly designed. We've learned a few things in 100 years.


Posted by Larry Jensen, a resident of Danville,
on May 23, 2023 at 9:49 am

Larry Jensen is a registered user.

If only 35 of the 97 passengers aboard the Hindenburg perished, why does history make such a big deal of it?

@Cameron...there far are more enjoyable places to attend college than in Contra Costa County. Perhaps that is why there is only Contra Costa JC and St. Mary's + a chiropractice school that allows people to call themselves doctors without having to attend an acctedited university.


Posted by Bill Rafferty, a resident of another community,
on May 24, 2023 at 11:00 am

Bill Rafferty is a registered user.

"Are people in Contra Costa County this ignorant?"

Of note...

"I can not believe that Valley Link is going airborne given the congested airspace in the SF Bay Area."

"...there are weight limitations when attempting to suspend a passenger car via blimp and so an air shuttle blimp link service would be more practical but would most likely require FAA approval."

"If only 35 of the 97 passengers aboard the Hindenburg perished, why does history make such a big deal of it?"

Obviously which further clarifies "...why there are no noteworthy colleges or universities situated in this region except for the one in Moraga."


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