By John Hilke
I bet it has been a while since you thought about railroads, but ideas are stirring in Congress and a group called Solutionary Rail has been thinking about the overlaps between transportation, social justice, and environmental issues for several years.  This picture conveys many of the key environmental ideas regarding transportation.

  1.  The industrialized world already has a vast network of RR rights of way that are underutilized. And maintenance is an issue in some regions of the U.S.
  2. RR rights of way could be used to upgrade the electricity transmission grid to move clean power to population centers now served by coal and natural gas plants that spew carbon. Using RR rights of way for this purpose also avoids the long, messy, and disruptive process of establishing new electricity transmission corridors.
  3. RRs are already more efficient in moving freight, but they can be even more efficient and less polluting if they are electrified, as they are in many parts of the world.
  4. Separate trackage for freight and passenger RRs could be accommodated within many existing RR rights of way as rail traffic grows.
  5. Short-haul passenger RR service can economically, safely, and ecologically replace airline service in many instances, as it often does in Europe.

You can learn more by visiting Solutionary Rail at

John Hilke