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An article, with attached commentary, on one of the oil sites I visit now and again. Basically, a plan to double track and electrify 38,000 miles of US railroad mainline, and shifting as much as 80% of truck traffic to rail. Combined with a massive windmill (and maybe solar) power generating program. New major power lines being built down the railway right-of-ways.

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4301#more

Electric loco's are not my area of expertise...but mayhap some of the folks here have a clue as to what they'd be using for motive power...
 

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Just moving truck traffic to rail would be a big help. Railroads can routinely get 420 ton-miles per gallon.

I've thought for years we need trucks to haul between source or destination to a rail depot 4 hours each way or less. Truckers would work 8 hour days and be home for supper. Would save lots of fuel, roads, accidents, family trouble ---
 

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I can't see why some class 1 isn't jumping on that alternative. It's easier to control emissions and generate lots a energy at a large power plant, instead of onboard every diesel that burns expensive imported fuel.
Unfortunately, the energy source suggested (nuclear) will take a long while to bring online.

There's a similar article that popped up when I was looking for a pic:
http://www.lightrailnow.org/features/f_lrt_2005-02.htm

One innovative alternative is to use the existing railroad ROWs as electrical transmission corridors


Note that the Amtrak Northeast Corridor electrification happened using the 1930s vintage PRR overhead [smart guys, those Pennsy men,] and it includes electrical transmission facilities on the same poles.

 

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I've said for years now that electrification is inevitable in some places, though I figure the major urban corridors on the east and central parts of the country are the best candidates, out west some of the distances are very great, lots of bad weather and places far from maintanence and repair units unlike in urban corridors , and even though the Milwalkee Road did it, I think it would be a harder sell today.
 

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Posted By vsmith on 07/15/2008 9:49 AM

I've said for years now that electrification is inevitable in some places, though I figure the major urban corridors on the east and central parts of the country are the best candidates, out west some of the distances are very great, lots of bad weather and places far from maintenance and repair units unlike in urban corridors , and even though the Milwaukee Road did it, I think it would be a harder sell today.


As the cost advantages of utilizing railroads over trucks become more compelling, inevitably bringing more freight business to the rails, I would think that more efficient ways of operation for the railroads would become a priority. Even with passenger service, economics are definitely changing. High-speed electrification may be the answer. My guess is that a new transcontinental electrified system will in no way resemble the old Milwaukee Road electrification projects. I would expect, for instance, that the old catenary system would remain a historic curiosity.  



I am not aware that weather or climate was ever an issue for railroad builders anywhere in the west except in the high mountain passes.  I would think the great distances would be a particular advantage for a new type of high-speed electrified rail when it comes to  passenger runs of the future. 
 

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the old catenary system would remain a historic curiosity

It seems to be doing just fine for high-speed (and very-high-speed) trains in Europe. What other solution is there - outside 3rd rail?
 

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Electric loco's are not my area of expertise...but mayhap some of the folks here have a clue as to what they'd be using for motive power...


Yeah! Bring Back the GG-1s !!!
 

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The major drawback is the cost of electrification. All that wire isn't cheap, folks, but once fuel hits $10 a gallon, then maybe they'll think about it. Back in the 70s, there was a proposal to electrify Harrisburg to Pittsburgh via the Conemaugh. The price back then was something like $770 million.
 

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The major drawback is the cost of electrification. All that wire isn't cheap, folks, but once fuel hits $10 a gallon, then maybe they'll think about it. Back in the 70s, there was a proposal to electrify Harrisburg to Pittsburgh via the Conemaugh. The price back then was something like $770 million.



In the comments after the article proper at that site, somebody mentioned this would dovetail nicely into the 'Pickens Plan' - a huge north south arc of windmills all through the midwest. Comment was made that there are a few of the weathiest (and saviest) wall street types who could *almost* finance the bulk of this on their own. I find that both encouraging and scary. What is a bit more encouraging is that the article was produced at the request of somebody (high up?) from the political side...maybe, just maybe something like this will be rolled out as part of some national plan or program in a year or three?

I do see most of the wall street types opposing it because of a lack of short term profits. I also figure it'd be bitterly opposed by both the airlines and trucking industries. Still...

...the way I see it, except for commercial and government use, internal combustion powered vehicles will be pretty much gone in twenty years (might do something about that smog thing where Vic's at). It'll be pretty much electric or foot (or maybe bicycle) for the rest of us.
 
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