Jeanne —

Our Solutionary Rail briefing on April 30th highlighted our latest research; watch by clicking the link below.

(This could be especially relevant for your elected Congressperson and their transportation/energy staff. Please pass this info along to them, if appropriate.)

Solutionary Rail’s approach to decarbonization: opportunities, obstacles, and pathways forward

Why SR?

  • the largest GHG emitters are the transportation and energy sectors

  • the most difficult challenge for decarbonizing land-based transport is long haul freight

  • the most difficult challenge to decarbonizing energy is efficient transmission

For the last 8 years, the Solutionary Rail team has been exploring the role of rail transport and rail rights-of-way in the US. We’ve found that multiple public goods are served by putting rail at the gravitational center of addressing intersecting environmental, economic and social crises. 

Solutionary Rail connects the dots on these challenges and can connect you with community and technical experts, offer policymakers fresh ideas for addressing these challenges and alerting them to potential obstacles and obfuscation from special interests. SR offers short term policy opportunities that set the pace for long term progress. 

Resources from Solutionary Rail: 

  1. Our newest slidedeck provides a self-guided tour through Solutionary Rail.
  2. This 2-page piece on assessing public interest served by balancing methods of freight decarbonization may provide criteria for assessing pathways to decarbonization that leverage efficiencies to minimize public harms, avoid unintended social justice, foreign policy, and climate harms.
  3. This BETA True Cost Calculator is a prototype to urge USDOT, the Administration and Congressional leaders to connect the dots on US data to characterize the public interest impacts of our current system and to harmonize infrastructure solutions with public goods. Documentation on this open source tool is available HERE.
Note on Terminology:
One note of concern re terminology, when speaking in terms of “high speed rail” is that everybody seems to mean something different – using it differently situation to situation. Perhaps we can all find a way forward in which the terms are less prone to misapplication. Rapid freight and passenger rail may be one way around this. HSR could mean anything over 79mph, OR we could use “higher speed rail” for 80-124mph, with 125-155 as conventional HSR. We use “conventional” in that it can travel on shared corridors, if not shared tracks.
SR has experienced the “Ultra” HSR proponents as mostly pushing projects of/for/by tech and developer billionaires, or engineering firms like WSP that want public money without regard for public interests. SR has put out a few pieces related to this: This RailBite in our RailBites Series – and the False Solutions document it is based upon.

If you have any questions, please contact our team at

-=-=-Backbone Campaign · PO Box 278, Vashon, WA 98070, United States
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