Season 5 - Biogas trains

Episode 4 - Will we see it in our lifetime?

Crazy how time flies when you’re dealing with once-in-a-lifetime temperature highs, right? We’re already on our fourth and final episode of our biogas train series and it feels like we started just yesterday. We hope you feel the same. It must be said that, unlike many other technologies, biogas seems the most promising as it could be a total solution. It’s part of the first stage of a long transition process. However, here at Midnight Trains, we’re always wary of anything claiming to be the Holy Grail.

For those who missed the previous episodes (it’s okay, we’ll forgive you), the biogas-powered train holds promise for three main reasons. The first is that while it's far from perfect, it's actually more environmentally friendly than its diesel-powered counterparts. The second is that it’s much cheaper than renewing a railway fleet. The third is that it could be put in place very quickly. “If there was an expression of interest from Ademe, the French agency for ecological transition, it could all move quite fast - perhaps taking between two and five years,” says Maria Lee, a logistics and transport expert at Sia Partners. “I may be overly optimistic, but I’m convinced that with the necessary political will, it wouldn’t take more than a few years to implement.” She adds: “several regions have expertise on the subject since some, like the Aquitaine region, have already launched tests.

An optimistic forecast could certainly be slowed down in many areas if it encounters liability and ownership issues. “In some regions, the incumbent operator will no longer own the rolling stock that needs switching to biogas and therefore it might refuse to pay for it,” says Lee. “As for the regions themselves, they don’t yet own the trains and could refuse to pay, which would slow down the whole process.” Based on this information, we have predicted the conditions in which biogas trains could be rolled out—

If biogas train are put into circulation in two years, in 2025:

  • All France’s medal hopes for the Paris Olympics 2024 will be a distant memory.
  • Global energy demand will, at best, have remained flat. Coal and oil will still have a bright future ahead.
  • As a result of the last previous prediction, people will be wearing Birkenstocks in the middle of winter more often.
  • Huge solar storms will cause web apocalypses and humanity will rediscover the meaning of the word “dictionary”.

If biogas train are put into circulation in five years, in 2028:

  • At the Los Angeles Olympics 2028, we’ll all be rooting for medal hopefuls once again.
  • The temperature will probably have increased by 1.5°C and the Olympic Games will be air-conditioned, thanks to gigantic wind turbines converted into auxiliary fans.
  • The 'world destroyer' Apophis will be approaching Earth and, no, that's not a nickname for a short-haul plane (it's an asteroid).

If biogas train are put into circulation in ten years, in 2033:

  • South-western England will have a Mediterranean climate and Brits will complain about all the people from Nice buying houses in Brighton.
  • Brad Pitt will have sold his Miraval vineyard to launch a rosé wine business in Dover.
  • NASA will have sent men and women to Mars. From up there, they can watch the Earth burn in peace.

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