Rail on: They're betting trains in California

HynesB88X146.JPGBy James G. Hynes
Several railways in the U.S. are now looking at using their valuable right-of-way through various regions for a new purpose: electrical power transmission. It seems quite a few prime sites for wind turbines aren't being developed because it would cost too much to build new transmission lines (especially through populated areas) to bring their power to market. Using an existing railway right-of-way can solve this problem in some key cases. What's more, running a power line alongside a railway track opens another immediate possibility, namely, using the power to drive the trains. This is, of course, exactly what HSR trains do. Hence, a Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto HSR link would not only deliver all the well-documented economic and environmental benefits, it could also create a new and much-needed power corridor between Quebec and Ontario, which would also be available to interconnect other power sources along the way, such as wind turbine farms in the Kingston area.
And meanwhile, California is now moving to the forefront among U.S. regions pushing HSR projects. Despite the state being technically bankrupt, funding for the California government agency working on HSR is not being cut, and it will soon receive even more federal funds. According to a New York Times magazine article, French and German experts consulted during engineering studies considered the economic prospects of an L.A.-to-San Francisco link to be comparable to those of the hugely-successful TGV line from Paris to Lyon. Of course, enormous political obstacles stand in the way (especially when they're California-style), but at least they're getting serious enough to spend significant bucks, which is more than you can say for us. Click here to read more of Jim Hynes on the compelling case for Canadian high speed rail.

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