Engineering an Electrified Steel Interstate; Free presentation, March 24

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don’t miss this free public lecture on the UW Madison campus next Thursday:

Oil-Free Transportation Options for the 21st Century
by Alan S. Drake, transportation researcher and independent consultant

Thursday, March 24 at 6:00 PM
1800 Engineering Hall
1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, WI

Sponsored by: UW Energy Hub, WISPIRG, UW Energy Institute, Madison Peak Oil Group, ProRail, Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment, and others.

Why is this important?
Construction of an Electrified Steel Interstate in the United States is an essential step towards building an affordable, reliable, sustainable transportation system an oil-constrained future. The national security, economic, and engineering reasons to do so are compelling:

1) If/when the United States is confronted by oil shortages again, such a system would play a vital role in moving food and other essential goods and services.

2) Costs of constructing, maintaining, and repairing highways for interstate trucking are approximately four times greater than the same kinds of costs for railways.

3) Fuel taxes and fees from freight trucking cover less than one-half the costs of highway wear and tear caused by these vehicles.

4) Railways can accommodate much heavier loads and operate at higher speeds than highways.

5) Semi-trucks on highways use more than four times as much energy per ton-mile of cargo as diesel-powered freight trains; and with double-stacked containers on rail, the energy use differential increases to nine times as much energy per ton-mile of cargo using trucks.

6) Electrification of freight railway service can provide a 60-67% reduction in energy use from diesel power pulling the same load, and use domestic electricity instead of imported oil.

The vision Drake and his colleagues offer leverages the synergies between electrified rail service with creation of the Smart Grid, distributed generation, greater usage of renewable electricity, and proven energy storage strategies. A comprehensive, modernized freight rail system – in conjunction with electrification and followed by expansion of higher-speed passenger rail service where appropriate – would employ currently-available technologies and be justified by quick pay-backs on investment.

In order for the Electrified Steel Interstate to become a reality, the electric utility industry will need to work closely with government and the rail industry to achieve a progressive electrification of the railways, synergistic use of common rights of way, provision of advanced signaling and control mechanisms, and mobilization of currently stranded renewable wind power.

For more information contact:
Arnold Harris (608) 798-4833
David Knuti (608) 234-7430
Hans Noeldner, facilitator, Madison Peak Oil Group


Pete Lotts said...

Read more about the steel interstate concept at these two websites:

Rail Solution has selected a 1000 long route for demonstration of the concept. See this page for an explanation of the demonstration project location:

I would be glad to correspond with anyone about this.

Pete Lotts, Member, Board of Directors, Rail Solution