What international precedents are there for electrified Rail operations?


Railway electrification and modernization is already working round the world. High Speed Rail has already demonstrated its merits in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and elsewhere. Upgraded, electrified services have also delivered benefits the world over, even if it is not full high speed rail. From Bulgaria, to Morocco, Ethiopia to China, railway improvements are translating into economic prosperity. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the United States had the top 10 fastest trains in the world, today, we are nowhere on list.

The United States has fallen far behind many other nations in terms of infrastructure competitiveness. Brazil surpassed the US in Soy Exports a few years back due to improvements in their infrastructure that resulted in cheaper exporting than from the US. The Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia has been fully electrified since 2003. Bulgaria and Hungary are teaming up to upgrade existing lines between Belgrade and Budapest to full high speed rail.

Our largest rival in terms of economy, China, has gone from no high-speed-rail service to having the largest network in the entire world in only 10 years. They have also continued to upgrade their conventional lines to increase services and speeds. More recently, China has undertaken global leadership with the New Silk Road Initiative, which includes a series of interconnected railways. The project allows for goods to be transported by rail over Eurasia to Europe in only a few weeks compared to months by sea.

Africa also is progressing ahead of the US with infrastructure improvement. China has built a new modernized, higher speed, railway in Ethiopia from the capital Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti. A trip that once took three days by truck now only takes a matter of hours. With freight services already started, passenger services are slated to start by mid spring 2017. Morocco is building a high-speed rail line for passenger service to connect Tangier with Casablanca.

The Goddard Base Tunnel in Switzerland (the longest rail tunnel as of present at 35 miles) was developed and constructed for both passenger and freight service. The premise was to take trucks off the congested roads, increase service efficiency and provide a boost to the economy. 65 passenger trains and over 200 freight trains will use the tunnel in a given day. This project, along with companion base tunnel projects through Switzerland, will increase service speeds and efficiencies while also drawing trucks off the congested road system. These projects allow trucks to be loaded onto trains in Germany and off-loaded in Italy, or vice versa.

In conclusion, railway modernization and electrification has been demonstrated throughout the world and brought numerous benefits. Railway operations are already the most efficient land-based transportation mode for moving passengers and freight over longer distances.

(See Solutionary Rail Chapter 2)


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