While the railroad heralded the unity between East and West in 1869 and railroad companies continued to grow into the 1900s as an economic powerhouse, the world changed when the automobile took to the road. Government control and regulation of the railroads during wartime up until 1980 strangled the industry, and only recently have we seen a resurgence of railroad travel for both passengers and freight across the country. So, what is next for the railroad? Does it have a future in a modern highway-covered America? From your friends at Sharp & Fellows, here are some future projects that have and will bring the train into the future.
An Upgrade for Freight
In 1984, a technique of train shipping known as double-stack rail transport was invented. Basically, it is a form of transport that utilizes intermodal containers (20 to 40-foot shipping containers) and places them on top of each other for double capacity in each train car. Weight limits set restrictions, but even stacks of three are possible with the right load balance. Accounting for nearly 70% of US intermodal shipments, it has enabled rail shipments to compete with trucking companies.
One major project for enabling double-stack rail transport across the states was the Heartland Corridor project. Begun in 2007, its other goals were to increase capacity on rail lines, shorten journeys, and reduce overall traffic between Norfolk, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and Chicago, Illinois. The railway was opened for double-stack service on September 9, 2010. It has since expanded to Cincinnati, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, with $290 million having been poured into the project from the public and private sources.
Future of Passenger Travel
It has been a dream for many to have access to high-speed rail transit in the US; already popular in Europe and Japan (with some traveling at speeds well over 300 mph), America has fallen behind in this mode of transportation. One project now underway in California, however, hopes to give passengers access from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just over two-and-a-half hours. The California High-Speed Rail (or CAHSR) began construction in Fresno in 2015, and expects to be in full service by 2029, with further extensions to San Diego and Sacramento being added later. The requirements of the travel speed are legislated as are the costs to the rider, so with any luck this new rail line will serve as a valuable part of California’s future economy.
We’re excited about the future of rail transportation. Trains and railways are the lifeblood of Sharp & Fellows, after all. For the best maintenance and repair service in the industry, choose the professionals that always get the job done right. Contact us today for more information.