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Pitch

Eliminate fossil fuel use for all ground transportation by electrifying railroads and highways.


Description

Summary

All rail lines should be electrified and extended into rural areas, restoring abandoned rail lines, so that long-haul truck transportation can be eliminated. Short-haul trucking can be electrified with a combination of battery and catenary lines extending from railheads to freight destinations. Freight can be containerized for rapid transfer from rail cars to trucks; railheads must be within range for short-haul electrified trucking and equipped with container cranes. Passenger rail and local car traffic can also be electrified; with high-speed rail the need for airlines will diminish. Personal cars can be electrified also with either frequent charging stations or catenary technology.


Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?

Electrifying transportation to reduce emissions will require massive buildout of renewable energies and the smart grid. This proposal links to the energy shift proposals.


Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab

Transportation accounts for approximately 30 percent of US emissions and 14 percent of worldwide emissions. Some emissions would still occur with the manufacturing and construction of electrified transport.


What are the plan’s key benefits?

Reduction of carbon emissions from transportation.


What are the plan’s costs?

Electrifyng railroads would cost $12,100 per route-mile in annual maintenance costs and $4.3 million in construction costs per route-mile or $176,515 annually over 30 years. Electrifyiing roads would be approximately the same. Other costs include buildout of railheads for container traffic and conversion of auto and truck production to all electric models.


What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?

Trucking companies would have to revise business plans to eliminate long-haul trucking; truckers could still be employed on short hauls. Drivers would have to be incentivized to convert to electric cars.


Timeline

Electrifying railroads could proceed quickly with existing right-of-way; restoring lines to rural areas may take a decade or more. Conversion of highways would take at least two decades. Conversion of the truck and auto fleets could be done in parallel, with markets concentrated in areas that electrify in stages.


Related plans

Rail Solutionhttp://railsolution.orghas proposed electrifying railroads.


References

http://railsolution.org/resources/rail-initiatives

Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation
– 2013 Draft Rail Plan

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
– 2035 Passenger & Freight Rail Plan

Tennessee Department of Transportation