High Speed Rail Puts Hurt on Freight

The emphasis on high speed rial in the U.S. overlooks the potential harm it could cause to the nation's powerful freight rail system, according to this piece from <em>The Economist</em>.
July 27, 2010, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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America's freight railroads -- regarded as the best in the world -- could be hurt by the emergence of high-speed rail in the U.S., mainly because those systems would likely use the same rails as the freight railroads.

"[T]he problem with America's plans for high-speed rail is not their modesty. It is that even this limited ambition risks messing up the successful freight railways. Their owners worry that the plans will demand expensive train-control technology that freight traffic could do without. They fear a reduction in the capacity available to freight. Most of all they fret that the spending of federal money on upgrading their tracks will lead the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the industry watchdog, to impose tough conditions on them and, in effect, to reintroduce regulation of their operations. Attempts at re-regulation have been made in Congress in recent years, in response to rising freight rates. 'The freight railroads feel they are under attack,' says Don Phillips, a rail expert in Virginia."

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Published on Thursday, July 22, 2010 in The Economist
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