Green New Deal Plan - Interstate High-Speed Rail System

Interstate High-Speed Rail System, freight component

The current freight train system is extremely efficient, at least four times more efficient than moving goods by truck. However, almost half of all freight train traffic is used to transport coal, which would disappear in a sustainable society. Freight trains can be converted to use electricity, however, and they could replace the use of large, long-distance trucks, if -- and this is a big if -- commercial areas were concentrated in town and city centers, instead of being strewn all across the landscape in malls and strip malls. If every town and city had at least one train station that could accommodate freight, then the energy needs of the country would be vastly reduced (trucks use about 1/8th of all oil). A freight system centered on trains would also require that factories be somewhat concentrated geographically. If all city regions had a ring of factories around them, it would be relatively easy to construct a rail line that would connect all factories to all city and town centers.


According to a very critical article about electrifying freight rail, it would cost on the order of $1 trillion, over 20 years, for $50 billion per year. However, without coal, we could instead use half of that money to convert to higher speed rail.