Balancing Rail Passengers, Freight, and Sustainability

Caltrain, the California passenger rail train, intends to electrify its rail system by the time high-speed rail comes online. This is at odds with freight railroads, however, and may lead to an increase in trucks on the road.

As Caltrain plans to electrify its San Francisco to San Jose corridor in order to meet high-speed rail needs, it will cut the hours of service that freight railroads may operate from 15 hours down to 5 hours per day. Additionally, height restrictions on the right of way, and overhead wires from the electrification, would prevent 40 percent of freight cars from using the railroad, San Jose Mercury News reports.

The Peninsula Freight Rail Users Group, a group representing 24 freight shippers, is pushing back. They indicate that the proposed restrictions on freight rail would lead to an increase in cargo being shipped via truck, resulting in more traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

Thanks to Michael Rodriguez

Full Story: High-speed rail, electrified Caltrain may prove disastrous for freight rail



Taking the longer view ...

... electrification is going to be a long term win for freight by rail, if a reasonable envelope can be developed. This would continue to be the case if there are weight and power/weight requirements in support of more capital efficient grade separations, such as 22.5 tonne axle loadings and 2.5% gradients.

While the demand for the height for car imports may be excessive, a normal envelope for containers, hopper cars and tank cars needs to be assured.

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