Project Latte: How Microsoft wants to integrate Android apps into Windows 10

Windows 10 may soon be able to run mobile apps designed for Android. Update on the technical details that allow this porting.  Microsoft is working on a software solution that would allow app developers to run their Android apps on Windows 10 with little or no code changes. How? 'Or' What ? By packaging them as an MSIX app package format and allowing developers to submit them to the Microsoft Store. The project is codenamed " Latte ," according to Windows Central, which says it will go into production next year. Microsoft had already tried to put Android applications under Windows 10 with the Astoria project, which has since aborted. The Latte project is probably powered by the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). But Microsoft will need to provide its own Android subsystem for Google's OS apps to actually work. Microsoft has announced that the WSL will soon be compatible with GPU acceleration, which should improve the performance of applications runnin

Why do trains still run on diesel in France?

 If you want to get to Brest from Quimper, in Brittany, the SNCF offers you two options: board a coach, or board a regional express train (TER), which is certainly faster but not necessarily more ecological. Because the trains of this line are in a way buses on rails, which run thanks to two powerful diesel engines. In the jargon of the SNCF, this is called a "thermal railcar", a type of train about which little is said, but which can be found in almost all regions of France.

Why do trains still run on diesel in France?

Praised for its low greenhouse gas emissions, rail transport still has its dark side. A parliamentary report published in 2018 estimated the share of trains running on diesel in France at 20%, transporting goods and passengers combined. According to open access data from the SNCF, no less than 283 railcars and thermal locomotives are still in circulation in the country. In addition to this aging fleet, the latest models of which date from the 2000s, there are several hundred more recent so-called "dual-mode" trains, capable of switching from diesel to electric and vice versa, depending on the lines taken.

Polluting but essential trains

With a consumption of up to 200 liters of diesel to travel 100 km, these trains weigh heavily on the carbon footprint of regional transport. SNCF also estimates that a TER pollutes on average 13 times more than a TGV, emitting 26.5 grams of CO2 per passenger and per kilometer, against 1.9 grams on the side of high-speed power lines. On the same basis of calculation, the comparison between a diesel TER and an electric TER is final: the thermal version emits nine times more CO2 per passenger and per kilometer, according to a guide (PDF) published by the Ministry of 'Ecology in 2018.

So why are so many of these trains still running? The answer can be guessed in the state of the regional lines, which are far from being all electrified. As this map shows, dozens of sections are still waiting to be equipped with power stations, poles and catenaries, these precious electrical lifelines. For the moment, only trains running on diesel are able to serve medium-sized towns such as Alençon (Orne), Troyes (Aube), Rodez (Aveyron) or even Auxerre (Yonne), which would otherwise be landlocked.

Modernizing a line is (very) expensive

Depending on geographic conditions, the cost of electrification generally varies between 350,000 euros and 1.5 million euros per kilometer. Just for phase 1 of the electrification site of the Paris-Troyes line, i.e. a large half of the section, the bill amounts for example to 176.5 million euros, divided between the State and the regions concerned. . "It is a significant investment, a real work of regional planning, but we also gain a lot", tempers Mireille Gazin, president of the Transport and Displacement Commission of the Grand Est region, which co-finances this project. "We improve the reliability of trains, their regularity, their comfort, while saving fuel costs, which are extremely important", details the elected, who wants to attract more travelers by improving the quality of service. "With the electric, we plan to increase the offer [of journeys] by 10%, with more services", she specifies, ensuring that the cost of the ticket will not undergo an increase linked to this work. .

The fact remains that such projects "are not possible for all lines", SNCF Réseau explains to franceinfo. The subsidiary says it favors "frugal electrification" of the sections, for example by focusing on the parts that are simpler to equip. In the not-so-distant future, electricity could also come from the train itself, if it carried a battery. 

 

A replacement scheduled for 2035

Contacted by franceinfo, SNCF nevertheless ensures that the replacement of diesel trains is "a priority". "The SNCF group has set itself a target of 'zero emissions' by 2035, indicates a spokesperson, and one of its levers is the greening of its equipment." To achieve this, the company is counting on a new generation of dual-mode trains, which recover and reuse the train's braking energy, as well as on 100% electric models which will carry batteries. However, we will have to wait until 2023 "at the earliest" to see them circulate in France.

Before permanently relegating its thermal trains to the depot, SNCF is turning to biofuels to ensure a smooth transition. "Tests carried out in 2019 show promising results," says the group, with significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, of around 60%, and a reduction in fine particles. " The latter, considered carcinogenic, are precisely singled out by the exasperated residents of certain stations, as revealed by franceinfo in March 2019.

On the user side, electrification is often claimed for the comfort and reliability gains it generates. This is particularly the case of travelers using line P of the Transilien network, included in the Paris-Troyes site, who expressed their satisfaction to the newspaper Le Parisien when the work started in January 2019. This modernization nevertheless requires efforts from the staff. users, who have since dealt with temporary line closures and replacement buses, taking up to an hour longer to complete the journey.



Towards a "greener" revival of rail freight?

In addition to small lines, the government recently committed to revitalize freight transport by train, which has been idling in France for twenty years. The Prime Minister, Jean Castex, even announced, Monday, July 27, the creation of "rail motorways" crossing France, with lines Bayonne-Cherbourg, Sète-Calais and the return of the "primeurs train", which circulated between Perpignan and the international market of Rungis, south of Paris. Problem: if freight locomotives are mostly electric, the small share of diesel models pollutes much more than all TERs in the territory, according to a report published in 2018 by Benoît Simian, deputy for Gironde (LREM).

The challenges of greening rail freight are comparable or even greater than those of TER.
Benoît Simian (LREM deputy)
Final report on the greening of rolling stock for rail transport in France

The last straw for these thermal freight locomotives is that they often run on electrified lines. The Simian report points to the example of the Tours-Orléans-Paris axis, equipped from end to end, on which up to 20 diesel freight trains still circulated per day in 2017. "These are long-term problems, of the past, says Laetitia Dablanc, associate researcher at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Planning and Networks (IFSTTAR), for whom the operators of these lines "find themselves tinkering with diesel locomotives."

The specialist is categorical: the electrification of freight lines is necessarily linked to the traffic observed. "It would be a considerable investment for a somewhat random return, warns the researcher, we are not going to electrify small freight lines that do not work at all, it would be disproportionate." If Laetitia Dablanc recognizes that recent government announcements are "a positive sign" towards the modernization of freight tracks, this does not guarantee greener freight trains. "There is a lot to do beforehand, especially in the management and operation of these lines."

In 2018, the Simian report recommended the same measure as that planned by SNCF for its TER: invest first in dual-mode trains, capable of exploiting electricity wherever it is offered, before thinking about other ways to decarbonize these journeys.



Next stop: hydrogen

Already in circulation in Germany, hydrogen trains should soon run through the French countryside. The SNCF is increasing the number of announcements concerning this clean gas, which can be stored in a battery capable of supplying an electric motor without emitting greenhouse gases. These new generation trains should have "an autonomy of 400 to 600 kilometers, depending on the operating profiles", details the group, and their first experimental runs are planned "by 2023".

Presented as the energy of the future, but still very expensive to produce and distribute, hydrogen should first arrive on small lines. For SNCF, the priority is not to launch a TGV equipped with fuel cells, but to invest in regional trains, such as the Regiolis H2, produced by the French manufacturer Alstom in partnership with the Canadian Bombardier.

More expensive to buy, the hydrogen train still interests local decision-makers. The Occitanie, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Grand Est regions are already on the waiting list to welcome the first tests, interested in the promise of fuel savings and maintenance that it represents. Not to mention the only release it produces: water vapor. Good news for the Brest-Quimper line, but also for the Armorique Regional Natural Park that it crosses.