Solutionary Rail is a plan to:
- Electrify the nation’s rail corridors by modernizing existing track infrastructure
- Power those corridors with distributed renewable energy (wind & solar)
- Use modernized rail corridors to bring clean energy to the rest of the country
Let’s talk about #1 – Why is electrifying the railroad crucial for building a cleaner, zero-carbon transportation infrastructure?
- 30% of all our greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation in the U.S.
- Rail transportation is more energy-efficient than highway transportation: the railroad requires 1/3 of the energy required by cars and trucks (steel wheels on steel rail involve less energy-intensive friction than rubber wheels on pavement).
- Battery-operated cars and trucks require extracting dangerous resources across the planet, and the problems of traffic casualties, road congestion, impervious flooded roads, and costly highway wear and tear will continue to worsen.
- Battery disposal: battery recycling causes air, water and soil pollution, and approximately 2/3 of batteries aren’t even recyclable. Once we have scaled up car and truck electrification, how will we dispose of the waste?
As you can see in the illustration, Solutionary Rail proposes catenary lines running above the trains to power the engines. Above that set of lines is another set of high-voltage lines, transmitting wind and solar-generated electricity from rural areas to towns and cities along the rail corridors.