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The Steel Interstate is a proposal to pursue dramatic gains in the energy efficiency of long haul freight transport in the United States, resulting in:

  • Substantial reductions in Petroleum Imports;
  • Substantial reductions in Greenhouse Gas emissions;
  • Substantially improved protection from Petroleum Supply interruptions;
  • Improved productivity for North American manufacturing; and
  • Substantial reductions in damage to the existing Asphalt Interstate System

How can it promise all of this? By mining gross inefficiency. The United States has one of the most energy inefficient systems of moving freight long distances available under current technology, and we combine that with an economy that relies heavily on moving freight long distances.

Some of the specific sources of energy efficiency are:

  • Moving cargoes in linked electric freight trains offers less air resistance than moving cargoes in individual trucks, because the freight car ahead provides a slipstream for the freight car immediately behind;
  • Steel wheel on steel rail has less rolling resistance than rubber tire on asphalt road;
  • Electric motors are more efficient than diesel or gasoline internal combustion engines; and
  • When braking, electric trains can put a load on their electric motors and generate power, feeding it back onto the line

Overall, long haul electric freight is around 15 times more energy efficient than long haul diesel semi freight. I tend to express this as over ten times the energy efficiency, to allow leeway for possibly longer routings when taking advantage of the Steel Interstate.

Long haul electric freight trains are also more space efficient than long haul truck transport. Freight demands that would require multiple lanes each way just for truck traffic can be readily accommodated on a two track mainline route. This can be done while accommodating a mix of 60mph heavy freight and 100mph fast container freight by including regular extended sections of passing track: the difference between passing track and sidings is that on-schedule faster and slower trains using the passing track remain in motion, rather than one sitting still in a siding waiting for the other to pass.

Finally, the operating cost per ton-mile for electric freight for both 60mph heavy freight and 90mph fast freight is enough lower than the operating cost of long haul trucking that the government can fund a National Steel Interstate with interest subsidies alone, with Access Fees and User Fees refunding the original capital cost of the system ~ initially, funding expansion of the system, and finally funding retiring the bonds.

If Its Such A Great Idea, Why Don't We Have Steel Interstates Yet?

So, if there are so many substantial reasons for pursuing Steel Interstates, why aren't we doing it yet?

Part of the issue was expressed by the Machiavelli:

And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly,
We have a whole tapestry of formal and informal institutions that are adapted to our current freight transport system, since they were developed as part of the process of solving problems that arose in running that transport system. And because Economic Institutions encapsulate previously arrived at solutions to previously experienced problems, and in many cases have been confirmed in whole or part by appeal to sovereign authority, Economic Institutions are normally backward looking.

This is a problem that faces all innovation. There is a further particular problem with long haul electric freight transport: even getting a "pilot project" underway requires a substantial amount of funding. "Long haul" cannot be demonstrated in a 10 or 100 mile long corridor. The RAILSolutions "pilot project" is from Harrisburg, PA to Memphis, TN, via Huntsville, AL; Chattanooga, TN; Knoxville, TN; Bristol, TN; Roanoke, VA; and Hagerstown, MD. Not only does Harrisburg, PA offer rail connections throughout the Northeast, it also offers an electrified corridor through to Philadelphia via the electrified Keystone East corridor.

That "pilot project" is about 1,000 miles of corridor.

That is both very long, and quite short. Quite short since a fully elaborated Steel Interstate System, as proposed by Alan Drake with support from modelling by the Millennium Institute would be 36,000 miles. So a single 1,000 mile long corridor is only demonstrating a part of the available transport benefits from a Steel Interstate system. Indeed, as the longer the haul, the greater the benefit in shifting freight from truck to long haul electric rail, there are likely to be entire transport markets that are not captured on a 1,000 mile corridor that will find a 2,000-3,000 mile corridor a compelling option.

If we project from the estimated $500b cost of fully built 36,000 miles of electrified rail, including 60mph heavy freight, 90mph fast freight, and grid-grid Electricity Superhighway HVDC transmission along the Steel Interstate corridors, that is $14m per mile, so 1,000 miles is $14b. Now, $14b may not seem like much set against the size of the Defense Budget. Indeed, $14b isn't a tremendous amount when we consider the $80b required annually to preserve our current $1.72T Asphalt Interstate System, or the $160b annually required to bring our national highway system to a state of good repair.

However, $14b is far more than we are used to spending on "pilot projects".

There is also an efficiency in building a large system on an ongoing basis, as proposed by Alan Drake. Suppose that a specific work team can complete 50 miles of corridor annually. 10 teams could complete a 1,000 mile corridor in a couple of years. However, then the start-up and establishment costs of the teams are only spread over two years. However, if that 1,000 mile corridor was one of a number of funded corridors, when those ten work teams were finished on the initial 1,000 mile corridor, they could move on to another 1,000 mile corridor.

Indeed, since there will be learning by doing in the process of building the corridors, the process of building the Steel Interstate should become more efficient over the course of the project.

So for this reason, while I fully support the corridor set out as an initial corridor by RAILSolutions, I propose a push to roll out a national network:

  • Harrisburg, PA to Memphis, TN, via Roanoke VA & Hunstville, AL;
  • Memphis, TN to El Paso, TX, via Little Rock, AR and Dallas, TX;
  • El Paso, TX to Riverside, CA, via Tuscon and Pheonix, AZ;
  • RIverside, CA to Reno, NV, via Fresno and Sacramento CA;
  • Reno Nevada to Ogden Utah via Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Harrisburg PA to Chicago, IL, via Pittsburgh PA and Fort Wayne, IN;
  • Chicago, IL to Ogden, UT, via Des Moines, IA and Cheyenne, WY;
  • Ogden UT to Seattle, WA via Boise, ID and Portland, Oregon

  • Miami, FL to Saint Louis, MO via Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee;
  • Saint Louis, MO to Fargo, ND via Des Moines, IA and Minneapois/St Paul, MN;
  • with potential connection to the Canadian rail system at Winnipeg.

  • Houston, TX to Cheyenne, Wyoming via Dallas, TX, Lubbock, TX, and Denver, Colorado.

This is 8,000-10,000 miles (specific mileage will depend upon specific alignment decisions made by the planning authority within the planning criteria set out in the funding authority). However, I am splitting it into three parts:

  • The Liberty Line from Harrisburg PA through to California on the southern route, then through Reno to Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah
  • The National Line from Harrisburg PA through to Seattle, Washington, via the Chicago freight bypass and Rock Island route to Ogden Utah;
  • The National Connector Lines, cutting across the main transcontinental loop from Miami through St. Louis to Minneapolis, MN and Fargo, ND, and Houston through Lubbock, TX and Denver, Colorado to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The Liberty and National lines are being financed by ongoing direct interest subsidy, and then the National Connector Lines financed by Revenue Bonds on Access Fees and User Fees collected on the system. When Access and User Fees collected on the system begin to exceed the finance service requirements of the Revenue Bonds, the surplus is devoted to first retiring the Revenue Bonds, and then retiring the original subsidized interest bonds.

Assuming one year for detailed project engineering and approvals on initial segments, and establishing ten work teams per year to complete 50 miles of corridor annually, the interest-subsidized portion might proceed (note that the progress points are rough approximations):

  • Year 1: initial project planning, alignment agreements, approvals and detailed engineering;
  • Year 2: Begin Corridor 1 from Harrisburg to Memphis, with 10 work teams;
  • Year 3: Continue Corridor 1 to Memphis, Begin Corridor 2 from Harrisburg to Chicago, 20 work teams;
  • Year 4: Continue Corridor 1 to Dallas, TX, Continue Corridor 2 to Omaha, NE, 20 work teams;
  • Year 5: Continue Corridor 1 to El Paso, TX, Continue Corridor 2 to Ogden, UT, 20 work teams;
  • Year 6: Continue Corridor 1 to Phoenix, AZ, Complete Corridor 2 to Seattle, WA, 20 work teams;
  • Year 7: Continue Corridor 1 to Sacramento, CA, 20 work teams.
  • Year 8: Complete Corridor 1, to Ogden Utah, 10 work teams.

Which in terms of spending at an assumed $20m per mile (since Federal Finance is typically in nominal terms rather than so-called "real" costs corrected for inflation) is:

  • Year 1: Initial project planning funding, about $500m
  • Year 2: 500 miles, 10 works teams, $10b;
  • Year 3-7: 1,000 miles, 20 works teams, $20b annually;
  • Year 8: 500 miles, 10 work teams, $10b.
  • Totals: 6,000 miles, $120b capital cost

At a borrowing rate of 5% for Energy Independence Bonds (structured as Fixed Interest Payment Consol Bonds to set them beyond the reach of political sabotage of Treasury's capacity to sell debt by playing games with the debt ceiling), that requires an interest subsidy of $500m in year 2, then an additional $1b a year in years 3-7, arriving at $6b annually by Year 8.

Why is $14b Once More than $6b Annually in Eight Years Time?

The hard work in gaining this interest subsidy is not coming up with one or another Pay As You Go spending or tax subsidy offsets, or one or multiple dedicated tax funding streams.

The hard work is building a coalition of support.

We can look to mobilize support from a "Green Jobs" coalition of supporters of action on Climate Change, supporters of reducing the wear and tear on our Asphalt Interstates, Rail workers unions, and businesses who stand to gain contracts as equipment, parts and materials suppliers for a broad national effort.

However, to have the best prospects of success, it is likely that we have to look further than the Green Jobs coalition. The biggest single institutional supporter of deployment of sustainable, renewable energy sources in the United States at present is the Department of Defense. This should be no surprise, since there is entrenched political support for a scale of industrial planning inside the Military Industrial Complex that was fought against tooth and nail regarding the rest of our national economy ... in many cases fought against ferociously by some of the very same firm supports of industrial planning by the Department of Defense.

And any large organization that takes a serious look at the strategic risks that are faced by the US economy will turn its attention to our dependence on imported energy. Much of our imported energy travels over long and vulnerable supply chains, and most of it consists of non-renewable resources that must be constantly supplemented by new discovery and exploitation simply to maintain a constant flow. The Steel Interstate offers an opportunity to provide long-haul freight transport at one-tenth the energy consumption, and using electricity which we can generate from a range of abundant domestic resources, which may be harvested with dispersed equipment which is, therefore, far more robust against the threat of sabotage than large nuclear or coal power plants.

However, the "Military-Industrial Complex" is more precisely named the "Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex", and the Department of Defense is far more likely to push for a project such as this if there is the prospect of assembling a coalition of Senators prepared to support the project. That coalition of Senators can hold hearings on the "challenge" of the vulnerability of our military logistics to an interruption of petroleum supply and the value of a long haul electric freight rail system to addressing that challenge. That "pressure" provides leverage for those in the Department of Defense who take the problem seriously to bring the formidable propaganda resources of the Department of Defense to bear on popularizing the Steel Interstate.

And by now, I am sure that you will have noticed something about the Steel Interstate Map at the top of this week's Sunday Train. The system passes directly through:

  • Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah
  • Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
  • Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado.

... which is 26 states on its own, representing a mix of all-Democratic, all-Republican, and split D/R Senate delegations.

That mix of both parties is in a very basic sense guaranteed by any map arrived at in a process that focuses on meeting long haul freight needs. After all, if you lay out a national electric freight rail network, following the highest volume long haul truck freight lines of traffic, it will necessarily connect with the large metropolitan centers that generate Democratic election victories. Along the way it will necessarily pass through many miles of rural and outer suburban areas that generate Republican election victories.

Further, the system also connects into the electrified Northeast Corridor, with primary available capacity late at night, which is precisely the most strategic time for providing freight origins from and arrivals to local freight dispatch centers in urban areas, and by its nature, it also serves any states that can connect to it via short distance truck and rail freight. In practice, it offers direct benefits to all 48 contiguous States.

So, if the Military Industrial Complex can be brought on board in the coalition to establish the initial 8,000-10,000 miles Steel Interstate system, then I believe that it shall be possible for the meat-grinder of US politics to come up with some system to permit the finance of the system.

Conversations, Considerations and Contemplations

Longer time readers of the Sunday Train will have known coming in that I advocate establishment of a Steel Interstate System ... and now more recent Sunday Train readers have been introduce to the proposal.

However, as always, rather looking for some overarching conclusion, I now open the floor to the comments of those reading.

If you have an issue on some other area of sustainable transport or sustainable energy production, please feel free to start a new main comment. To avoid confusing me, given my tendency to filter comments through the topic of this week's Sunday Train, feel free to use the shorthand "NT:" in the subject line when introducing this kind of new topic.

And if you have a topic in sustainable transport or energy that you want me to take a look at in the coming month, be sure to include that as well.

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lordy This is Such a Good Idea and So Well (9+ / 0-)

    presented.

    I'm afraid I have to echo the advice I give to climate change advocates, that starting with lobbying government about this is the wrong way to go. Government is too captured by big corporate and its owners.

    Start by trying to build a coalition --and as you suggest MIC is part of the mix-- among ownership that can convinces its representatives that we vote for.

    Great piece tonight.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:42:43 PM PDT

    •  I am hoping that a ... (4+ / 0-)

      ... coalition is forming on the Green Jobs front, but I don't know what the prospects are in terms of getting the strategic war-gamers interested. As I am hoping to make the RAILSolutions annual meeting next month, I may have a better read on that by this time next month.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:02:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Any umbrella organization for a Green New Deal? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gooserock, BruceMcF, raines, HeyMikey

        I've seen individuals make pitches for it here and there, including at Netroots Nation this year... There's so much work to be done restoring the environment and building sustainable infrastructure, work that isn't profitable for corporations and that government should do.

        I know, I know, politically impossible and all that... today. but as your post exemplifies, let's lay out the vision and build the movement.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:27:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And I should perhaps clarify that ... (4+ / 0-)

      ... I am not in fact advocating starting with lobbying government on either side of that "politics makes strange bedfellows" coalitions of coalitions ...

      ... that is, the hypothetical Senators convening hearings on these kinds of things is after first getting things moving behind the scenes. A big difference between the hearings that seem to spark movement and the hearings that go nowhere is that the first ones were part of a process that is already rolling inside the MIC, while the second are often some politicians doing a political demonstration to show they are "fighting the good fight" but without any internal institutional support.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:09:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting concept.... (5+ / 0-)

    Getting trucks off the highways will also mean less wear and tear on the highways saving money from the constant need to repair them.  Another issue I have with diesel trucks - not sure how often they are inspected.  Too often I see trucks on major highways with worn tires or spewing out smoke such that they almost look like the coal locomotives of the past.  In some cases their drivers also tail gate autos potentially leading to serious accidents.

    How quiet do you think these electrified freight lines will be?  A big difference living near a commuter rail line which stops operations in the evening vs. freight running round the clock.

    •  Living in a town that has freight going through .. (6+ / 0-)

      ... at night, a quiet zone is a really important part of the equation. Allowing freight trains to go across level crossings without using their horns requires upgraded level crossings, including the ability to detect vehicles on the tracks ... and that would be part of the process of allowing for rapid container freight.

      Another part is providing grade separation, and strategic improvements to grade separations are also possible when building up corridors to support this speed and volume of freight rail traffic.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:58:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I used your name in vain in a comment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, spacecadet1

    the other day. I only hope that I correctly conveyed an accurate picture.  I see here that you are recommending passing track for dual speed freight.  I applied the idea to a potential mixture of freight and passenger service, so I may have misunderstood the concept.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:28:27 PM PDT

    •  The 10:50 is the ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jay C, ModerateJosh, bmcphail

      ... baseline system for the Midwest Regional Rail System, which is indeed for mixing higher speed passenger trains of the 110mph top speed type with slower freight, but particularly on more lightly used freight lines.

      When you have built a system so that it is compatible with a high volume of heavy 60mph freight and rapid 90mph freight mixing, mixing in 110mph passenger trains is mostly a matter of scheduling the slots. Since freight trains only have to stop to add more cars or change crews, 90mph freight trains and 110mph passenger trains are very close to the same effective transit speed.

      Mind, these corridors would be selected to move long haul freight, but if they happen to be useful for all or some of a passenger train route, that passenger train would run far more effectively on a Steel Interstate corridor than they do on the slow heavy freight corridors of today.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:49:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mixed passenger & freight trains? (0+ / 0-)

        Any reason not to put freight cars & passenger cars in the same trains? I assume they'd need different railyards at the origin & destination city, but surely that could be managed?

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:02:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It generally makes more sense ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, bmcphail

          ... to have them separate, though package express on Intercity Express Trains make make some sense. That would track what we used to do, since the post office typically carried mail on faster intercity passenger trains rather than on freight trains (that was mostly before the Great Slow Down, when the FTA tried to get freight railroads to adopt PTC and instead the freight railroads mostly just set their speed limit at 1mph below the speed where PTC was required).

          But given that even the rapid freight would have a lower speed limit than the 110mph passenger trains, and the passenger trains have more stops and starts than make sense for freight, combining the two makes for a single train that goes slower than either separately. When running separately, the higher top speed of the passenger train offsets the larger number of stops and starts.

          Combining general freight and general passenger traffic is more a thing for lower frequency and smaller volume routes, and under current conditions those would still be served by cars, buses and trucks. Though, if we bite the bullet on transport fully powered by sustainable, renewable energy, it could well come into the transport mix.

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          by BruceMcF on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:27:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Much obliged for your futher explanation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

        by bmcphail on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:00:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  part of that Rail Solutions map (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    south from Harrisburg appears to use an alignment that does not really exist.

    Did they simply just draw lines on a map?

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility- mperiousRex.

    by terrypinder on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:51:37 AM PDT

    •  Its not a detailed alignment map ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrypinder

      ... its a corridor map. There are two main Valley rail alignments (since there are two main Eastern US Class I railroads), and it would not make sense to commit to one of them when they can use one, the other, or a mix of the two (there are several points where a fairly short dogleg can take you from one to the other, since several east-west corridors junction with both).

      Indeed, there may be more than two alignment options for the connection into Harrisburg itself, because Harrisburg is a big of a regional hub.

      Same as my map, really ~ it gets a lot more squiggly than a few straight lines between towns that the rail goes through between Harrisburg PA and Pittsburgh, PA or between Sacramento, CA and Reno, NV when it comes down to the actual alignments.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:06:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ah I see now (0+ / 0-)

        and actually, I wasn't correct. I forgot about the NS Trunk line that parallels I-81, which roughly follows the corridor depicted on the map. For some reason I thought part of it wasn't active.

        link (PDF)

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility- mperiousRex.

        by terrypinder on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 11:06:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They draw it roughly paralelling I-81 ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... since their main local campaign driver is the expensive proposal to widen I-81 due to the truck freight congestion. Which does put it closer to the Norfolk Southern alignment than the CSX one, further to the east.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 11:43:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Bruce for President, 2016. NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 08:58:10 AM PDT

    •  What a horrible thing to say ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey

      ... Secretary of Commerce is surely the best job on the Cabinet. Very rarely have to get up in the middle of the night because of a crisis somewhere halfway around the world that inconveniently decides to set their activity cycle by local time instead of DC time, the Census, NOAA, the Export/Import bank ... that's the job.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:08:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Memphis: FedEx & UPS? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    Memphis airport is the main hub for FedEx, and one of the major hubs for UPS. Is there much potential for transfer of freight between air & rail carriers?

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:08:15 AM PDT

    •  Yes ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey

      ... while the main target there would be to shift the market boundary between air and ground transport, the ability to make a shipment by rail and have it arrive on time would be quite attractive for rail to air rather than truck to air connections.

      That kind of business might be more inclined to use CargoSprinter style trains than conventional long haul freight trains. The Cargo Sprinter concept builds longer trains by coupling shorter "rail-truck" trains together.

      If the diesel traction in the "rail-truck" was replaced by a hybrid diesel-electric powerplant, it would be straightforward to make it a dual power vehicle that draws power off overhead lines where available.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:15:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm thinking cost, too... (0+ / 0-)

        Given the much greater energy efficiency of rail, there must be potential to ship packages cheaper by rail than by air. If FedEx or UPS could start doing that on one spoke of their Memphis hub, it would create demand for more rail spokes.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:49:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder how much efficiency it would lose (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    If you add the capacity for passenger rail to haul passenger cars as well- I'd love to load my car on a train and ride in comfort from Kansas City to Denver.

    •  We already have that capacity ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... though only from the Northeast to Florida.

      It would be far more efficient than driving the same distance, of course, but setting up a system that allows cars to be loaded at various points and unloaded at various points without getting in each others way would involve substantial investment at the supporting train stations.

      The CarTrain doesn't face that problem since it loads at one point and unloads at one point, so it can be more like ferry loading and unloading than individualized loading and unloading.

      In any event, it would definitely increase the range of all-electric cars if they could take cross-country trips on an electric train.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 11:00:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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