The Zero Emission Bike and Rail Alternative or ZEBRA is one of the most important initiatives in history of the Heritage Railroading movement. The idea is to have a bike trail running in parallel with a heritage railroad that operates completely with zero emission vehicles.
Rails with Trails was the first step. The key concept of Rails with Trails is having a bike trail and a heritage railroad line run together in the same corridor parallel to each other and at a safe distance.
The next step is to operate the railroad exclusively with Zero Emission vehicles.
The Westinghouse Air Brake company is now testing battery powered road engines on the BNSF main line here in California.
The Sierra Northern Railway which does railroad operations in the port of Sacramento just across the river from the California State Railroad Museum just got a grant from the California State Energy Commission for four million dollars to convert an old switch engine to run on a hydrogen fuel cell.
One of the biggest areas of concern for neighborhoods adjacent to historic rail corridors is that vintage steam locomotives belching toxic fumes might have an adverse effect on neighborhood air quality.
But that was then and this is now. Technology has moved on, and many heritage railroads are embracing Zero Emission Rail and Bike Alternative or ZEBRA.
The three most promising types of technology are:
The Zero Emission Rail Bike Alternative (ZEBRA) is the next generation of the Rails With Trails (RWT) concept. For years the California State Railroad Museum has operated a heritage railroad in parallel with a bike trail. Battery powered locomotives now being tested on the BNSF in California.
The California Energy Commission has awarded GTI and Sierra Northern Railway nearly $4,000,000 to fund the design, integration, and demonstration of a hydrogen fuel cell switching locomotive to support the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Demonstrations in Rail and Marine Applications at Ports (H2RAM) initiative. The locomotive will show the potential of hydrogen fuel-cell technology to reduce transportation air pollutant and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The new hydrogen fuel cell powered locomotive will operate in the Port of Sacramento just across the river from old Sacramento.
In the distant future the California State Raileoad Musieum plans to run an excursion train deep in the delta. The passenger trains will start at Pocket road and head south into the delta. Passenger trains can't make the run between pocket road and old Sacramenro because the flight path of plains from the executive air port crosses over the tracks at Florin road. A loaded passenger train would not be able to cross the flight path because it is against FAA regulations.
Moving empty trains from pocket road back to the shops would be an infrequent event.
Rail Bikes are becoming an important factor in heritage railroading. Rail bikes could be coming to the Del Rio Trail!
This is an example of a human powered vehicle or HPV.