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Plugging in Rail Reform on Two Wheels

Rail develop in the US for example is moving along far too slowly and not gaining steam in regard to building a competitive electrical infrastructure that capitalizes on lower electricity costs as well as superior speed and cleanliness to ensure our global competitiveness in transport in the era of climate change.

One culprit is old backward industrial interests that prefer to languish on one’s laurels and be lost in history rather than come to terms with the overwhelming benefits versus costs of passenger commuter rail culture as well as improvements for freight in speed, lower emissions, less congestion on roads, etc.

These interests are led by passive self-labeled aficionados who are lost in the romantic history of railroads in US history through books, films, toy train exhibits, etc.

Their way has left a poorly running rail infrastructure notorious for long delays that value freight resources far more than people especially in the middle of the US and cause more accidents due to ignoring investments and improvements to railtracks for example.

While our leadership is lost in a romantic past and sees rail as a museum gathering dust, most of the world is moving on with steam with the superior speed and efficiency of well managed, on-schedule passenger and freight rail now reaching speeds of well over 400 km per hour and soon to slash distances with more direct routes to save on resources and to reduce emissions further with projects such as Malmo-Palermo tunneling through the Alps as well as China’s trillions of dollars to be invested in their near-abroad belts and road infrastructure.

We can do better, for example, by adding third rails to electrify the heartland anew with high-speed passenger rail now with more direct stops that push out polluting buses as well as freight managed in a more safe and timely manner.

But leaders need to be brought up to speed and also electrified regarding rights of passengers and commuters alike to safe, efficient and direct rail service that could connect regional research hubs and commercial centers to spur on enterprise, initiative as well as quantity and quality of research.

Union Pacific Railroad which owns much rail track in the western half of the US and pushed passenger rail out of LA in 1971, speaks only of freight resources and continues to make no mention of passenger rail at the moment on its tracks.

Expansion in CA and the Northeast is hindered by a 501(c)(3) culture clogged up with debt and inefficiency and slow to respond with expertise to secure expansion in other parts of the country where demand is daunting due to changes in climate as well as lifestyle and can no longer be overlooked or silenced with old polluting technologies.

2030 is too slow. 2020 is world-class and can no longer be ignored by old isolated and insulated rail interests.

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