Steel Interstate System Prototype Demonstration

RAIL Solution has been discussing with various governmental entities and the Norfolk Southern Corporation a proposal to undertake a feasibility study and preliminary engineering analysis of a project for a prototype demonstration of the Steel Interstate concepts.  This project would provide both freight and passenger service on the same system at speeds in the 60 to 115 mph range, the exact range depending on the type of traffic, whether general freight, intermodal freight, or passenger traffic. At this point, Norfolk Southern has not endorsed this project, although they are making selective improvements to the Valley Route. The project, to be known as the Valley Corridor Route Steel Interstate Prototype, would upgrade the western half of the Norfolk Southern Corporation’s Crescent Corridor to meet the required standards to operate rail service according to the requirements of the National Rail Plan[1] and the outline of specifications of the Steel Interstate System which has been proposed by RAIL Solution.[2]

The Steel Interstate System (SIS) addresses most of the elements of the vision of the 2010 National Rail Plan. To see ways in which the SIS addresses the National Plan Click here.

The Steel Interstate Concept has been endorsed by these localities and representatives:  

The Steel Interstate Demonstration in the I-81/I-40 Corridor
(the Memphis-Harrisburg Great Valley Corridor on the Norfolk Southern System),
the route RAIL Solution has chosen for the demonstration of the Steel Interstate System.

Valley Corridor Map

(Click on Map to Enlarge)

The Prototype Demonstration is a part of the existing Crescent Corridor of the Norfolk Southern Corporation, which connects the mid-South to the edge of the Eastern Mega-region.

Under the RAIL Solution plan, the rail lines would be realigned to at least two tracks providing bi-directional train traffic, elimination of grade crossings, frequent crossovers from highways and other modes to accommodate both freight and passenger traffic at fast speeds (intermodal freight averaging 70 mph and passenger 90 mph, with top speeds of 110 mph). Intermodal freight terminals are being built and planned for the route, and, under the Rail Solution plan, additional loading locations would be provided for loading of trucks onto trains at closer intervals.

The route parallels as closely as feasible the Interstate Highway System routes 1-40, I-75, and I-81, which carry some of the heaviest loads of truck freight traffic in the U.S. See graphic displays of truck traffic in 2007 and projection for 2040, both by the Federal Highway Administration.

Long-Haul Truck Traffic-2007

Long-Haul Truck Traffic-2007 (Click to enlarge)

Long-Haul Truck Traffic in 2040

Long-Haul Truck Traffic in 2040 (Click to enlarge)







Features that make the route attractive for demonstration include: its service to a region that is underserved by intermodal freight, parallel interstate highways that are crowded with truck freight, a large volume of potential truck freight that can be attracted to intermodal rail, 1000 mile length, and intersection with other feeder lines, hubs, and highways. This provides an excellent prototype demonstration route where attractiveness of both long range and short range trucks can be tested.

The route chosen offers the potential for passenger service both within the demonstration route and through connections from the demonstration route to large cities and hubs at reasonably short distances.

Steel Interstate brochures are available here.


[1] National Rail Plan, September 2010, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration. This is the shortest route of the two parallel rail lines of the Crescent Corridor that one can take between the Mid-South (Memphis and Birmingham and Harrisburg, PA.

[2] RAIL Solution is a non-profit organization that has developed the Steel Interstate System concept.




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