Are there any proposals for a significant electrification of US railroads?
There seem to be few electrification projects; but a group that hopes to promote more.
This article, Electrifying freight trains in the U.S. is a really bad idea, December 13, 2016, mentions one freight project; but, of course is negative on electrification.
The only freight electrification project being considered in the United States is a $28 billion dollar project in the Los Angeles area. It would combine electrified passenger trains with trains specifically designed to handle cargo containers on a fully elevated guideway system from Los Angeles area ports to distribution centers about 30 miles away (SCAG 2008, SCAG 2012).
[SCAG - Southern California Association of Governments.]
For passenger train projects, there is the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP).
The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) involves the electrification of approximately 82km of track between the Fourth and King Street Station in San Francisco and the Tamien Caltrain Station in San Jose.
The ground-breaking ceremony of the electrification project was held in July 2017, with construction scheduled for completion in 2022.
This article, Electrification of U.S. Railways: Pie in the Sky, or Realistic Goal?, May 30, 2018, mentions the group Solutionary Rail.
A group of progressive-minded activists and industry experts have proposed that the federal and state governments, together with the railroad industry, invest in a long-term project to electrify U.S. railroads. In a book published in October 2016, Solutionary Rail, a people-powered campaign to electrify America’s railroads to a clean energy future, they detail a plan that would update freight and passenger railways with overhead wires to carry high-voltage electricity generated in towns along the lines, and replace diesel locomotives with electric engines. These wires would also provide a new, nationwide electricity transmission system that would help deliver the electricity generated by distributed renewable energy sources. The book points to several advantages of an electrified railway over the existing U.S. system, but industry and government analysts are skeptical as to whether the plan could be implemented.
Is Rail Electrification a Feasible Undertaking in the United States?
Making the transition from the current U.S. railway infrastructure to a nationally electrified rail system is not a trivial issue, and the Solutionary Rail proposal doesn’t provide a cost estimate for such an undertaking. It does, however, point out that many other nations (Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Japan…) have made significant moves to electrify their railway systems, and many other countries are now engaged in efforts to do so. However, it is easier for those countries to secure financing for major infrastructure investments like this than it is for their U.S. counterparts because their railway services are government-owned and operated, whereas U.S. railroads are privately owned (except for Amtrak, which is partially government-funded).
The U.S. government could require that all railways be electrified by a certain date, if there were ever such political motivation. The large investment necessary is an obvious obstacle, and the interest in reducing the nation's carbon footprint by switching to electric rail is not strong in Congress. Such an effort would be more difficult in this country than in Europe or Asia, which have more dense urban populations. While several other technologically-advanced nations (e.g., Japan, Germany, France, Mexico and Australia) have marked a steady decrease in their consumption of petroleum (from which diesel is derived) over the past several years, the U.S. consumption of petroleum has been increasing, due in large part to demand from the transportation sector. There is no national dialog about reducing the use of combustion engines, even though the transportation sector produces 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases.
There is also a proposal, Green New Deal, which mentions high-speed rail. Though I could find no specific reference to electrification of railroads, it might be implicit in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, especially in light of the previous reference to Solutionary Rail that electrification of railroads is technologically feasible.
H. RES. 109, page 9.
... overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in--(i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transit; and (iii) high-speed rail; ...