Press Release: Campaign for rail electrification in US aims to unite unlikely allies

[Author and activist co-founder of Bill McKibben sent this video message to the Solutionary Rail Campaign launch event January 7, 2017. Checkout the press release and website, to see if you want to join the team. All aboard! ]

[Go to full article Author to view video greeting from activist co-founder of Bill McKibben] 



Solutionary Rail - Campaign for rail electrification in US aims to unite unlikely allies (in fractious times). 
Contact for more information: Bill Moyer, 206-356-9980, [email protected]

[Review copies of the Solutionary Rail book or ebook are available for press upon request]

"Rail electrification, as proposed in this remarkable book, is that rarest of things: a genuinely new idea, and one that makes immediate gut sense." ~ Bill McKibben

When the United States seems intensely divided and polarized beyond collaboration, a new book declares that our railroads hold the promise of uniting communities and diverse sectors of our country in common cause for the common good.  Solutionary Rail: A people-powered campaign to electrify America’s railroads and open corridors to a clean energy future was released in November 2016, just days after the 2016 election. 

The authors and organizers of the Solutionary Rail campaign make the case that the non-ideological coalition they are working to organize will bring diverse and often competing interests together in support of a public-private partnership to deliver jobs and renewed prosperity to rural and urban communities alike.  They offer this hopeful message with a plan to move America forward - not backward - expanding clean, renewable energy and reducing sources of carbon in the atmosphere.

Rail, unique among forms of mass transportation, can easily be electrified. Because electricity is increasingly coming from clean sources such as sun and wind, rail has the potential to serve as a clean and reliable form of transportation while invigorating communities along the way. The Solutionary Rail book proposes overhead rail electrification, powered by renewable energy accomplished in conjunction with track modernization. This infrastructural investment will bring to the United States the reliable, electrified, higher-speed service now common on public railroads in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.


Such service can draw significant portions of freight and passenger business lost to highways and aviation back to the tracks. Increased speeds, of up to 120mph, will revitalize rural communities along the tracks: Farmers will be able to ship their crops to market in a timely manner, public health problems caused by diesel exhaust will be greatly reduced and (eventually) coal dust will be eliminated in rural and urban communities alike.

The electrification infrastructure above the tracks will pass through diverse weather systems and countless rural power cooperatives, municipal and tribal utility service areas. High voltage transmission lines above those used for the trains will transport renewable energy from rural production sources to large urban markets, giving rural communities the opportunity to profit from currently untapped resources.

This proposal is a win for nearly everyone, railroad companies and the public alike, especially for rural communities, tribes, railroad workers and urban neighborhoods impacted by diesel from trucks, ships and trains.

  • Introduction to the basic components of the Solutionary Rail proposal HERE.
  • Below is the front cover of the book.  Additional resources, artwork and captions for publication can be found at:
  • High resolution (color and black&white) versions of the artwork available HERE.
  • More review quotes HERE


Solutionary Rail is a project of the Backbone Campaign, best known for training and orchestrating kayaktivists against Shell Oil. In 2013, Backbone was challenged by a labor leader to “Green” a 2008 paper on modernizing the Northern Corridor.  Knowing that our “No” is only as powerful as our “Yes” is compelling, Backbone spent three years to answer that challenge. The result is Solutionary Rail, a unifying campaign in divisive times.

"While corridor concepts go back generations, your group has brought fresh ideas as to what a future corridor might look like. Without new concepts to stimulate innovation, progress stagnates. Solutionary Rail provides something tangible for all stakeholders to consider and to build on. Congratulations to your team for taking the corridor challenge, putting pen to paper, and producing a finished work."
~ Mike Elliott, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

"A brilliant solution to our simultaneous need to cut carbon emissions and improve our transportation infrastructure.  Brilliant!"
~ Thom Hartmann, author, radio and TV journalist