A Proposal for US and Global Transport Policy
solely on the profit motive to effect the transition from fossil
driven transportation will not include re-emphasis of rail transport.
This is because the USA rail freight component has become the least
subsidized transport mode, resulting in a severe abandonment of
the branch network and redundancies.
decline of oil from depletion requires a vast expansion of rail
capacity and reach, and will demand new funding mechanisms. The
US Federal Reserve can initiate, with UN/World Bank replication,
"ENERGY INDEPENDENCE BONDS", modelled after WWII War Bonds.
The intention is to provide seed money for an energy efficient rail
network and the generation of renewable energy, linked to rail expansion.
has suggested oil consumption taxes, which allow for present transport
policy to approach a cost-benefit equilibrium. The Energy Independence
Bonds will be a National funding mechanism for the re-orientation
of the actual transportation infrastructure, being needed to provide
substitute commercial transport capacity and maintain societal cohesion
in scenarios of diminishing energy. This will be a time of testing
leadership nerve and skill, guarding against the temptation to extract
a few extra years from the status quo.
borrow from aviation, we are in for a hard landing because we are
already in "Fossils Overshoot" mode, due to the inability
to maintain USA per-capita energy consumption regardless of what
we do. Delay in effecting changes will result only in a more difficult
time when the shortfalls take place.
railway is treated here as a strategic "Second Dimension"
of surface transport, and is seen as an apolitical logistics platform,
independent from the disruptions taking place in motor transport.
The planning for this period must pay especial attention to the
depot and warehousing/delivery trucking interface. Rail connectivity
to renewable power is simply accomplished, without fuel cell or
battery, and brings the economy of large scale to renewable industry.
planning builds on expansion of existing railways, replacement of
abandoned branch corridors, and extension of reach as needed in
a case-by-case determination. This is applicable worldwide, and
captures the ability to mass-produce interchangeable rail components
for worldwide use. Russia?s wide gauge is however a notable exception.
Would Middle East Railways linked to renewable energy be a peacemaker?
new rail corridor construction will look at demographics and consider
energy. For example: the US 50 corridor between Sacramento, California
and Carson/Reno, Nevada, justifies a new railway line, particularly
with megawatts of hydropower coming from the American River, handily
found en route.
hard point of decision will be faced worldwide when highway expansion
reaches a plateau, and railway becomes the focus. There are wild
areas to which pavement may extend, but the era of unlimited road
expansion has ended.
course, this discussion does not take away from research and development
underway, but should alert readers to the fact that rail offers
proven energy savings that must be a paramount consideration to
the United States. It is worth repeating that a train is the car's
best friend, and this can be inclusive of agriculture and economic
well-being as well. Ability to move about is a most important part
of human life, and must focus on sustainability.