If you follow the old highways of the midwest you get into farm country pretty quickly, and you will see the infrastructure used to supply energy. It’s not oil and gas lines I speak of. You see instead rail lines, switchyards, and depots used to supply the older forms of energy: food from grain and animal crops, and coal to power our industrial processes, towns, and cities.
The tracks snake for millions of miles across our landscape, but they are largely forgotten, or thought of as quaint. They are however a fundamental part of this nation, and not just in memory. If the trains stopped tomorrow we would be in a world of hurt. Without them bulk goods don’t go very far, and there aren’t enough Peterbilts and Macks to carry the freight they do. Without the daily bulk runs of dirty coal cars our nation would fall so far behind on the energy curve that we would quickly degenerate to third world status.
Our rail system is antique, here you can see my great grandfather and his engine, and sad to say, the basics of rail technology haven’t changed much at all since he retired back in the ’60s. I would not be surprised to find the engine you see him standing on in 1969 still in service.
It’s time to build modern 21st century rail, we need a high speed coast to coast freightline and while we are at it one for passengers too. It’s time to create a new coast to coast rail right of way and make it serve triple-duty as a power intertie and high speed fiber route as well. What would it take?
Congress creating that coast to coast right of way is the first step.