A March 3 article By Brian Palmer in the Washington Post points out that “Trains are far more energy-efficient than trucks — and they always will be.”
He also notes that “… freight trains have doubled fuel efficiency over the past few decades, …” and “You may have heard railroad commercials bragging that trains can move a ton of freight more than 450 miles on a gallon of fuel. What they don’t tell you is that, in 1980, that distance was only 235 miles.”
To make a large conversion of trucks to trains, the U.S. rail system needs to be modernized in most places to enable speeds and reliability of delivery that is highly competitive with trucks on highways. That means that most rail systems should operate point-to-point intermodal freight at 60 to 70 mph with high capacity multi-tracked systems.
But that takes vision much beyond that the rail companies appear to have. They are mostly concerned with picking the low hanging fruit for short term economic gain. A new modern system is being proposed by Rail Solution, including the means of financing the system with private funds, using incentives for private investment.
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