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- Capacity of the key SIS corridors would be much greater than today’s existing lines, primarily due to the use of multiple tracks. Trains of all kinds could be accommodated – conventional freight, unit trains, double-stack container trains, open-intermodal trains such as rolling highway (truck ferry), mail and express, perishable cargoes, and passenger trains. Railroads would not have to turn away business seeking to shift to rail because of highway congestion, driver shortages, or fuel costs. Remember, freight volumes are growing; these upgrades enable rail traffic to have room to grow to meet this national challenge to efficiently move people and goods at low cost.
- Speed is greatly improved because there is room on the SIS for through trains to run in both directions without having to stop for opposing trains to pass. There would be extra tracks where needed for faster trains to get around slower ones, or to permit separate passenger train operations. Furthermore, trains can move on the core network over long distances avoiding the congestion of yards and terminals. Trains would exit from the SIS network, just as we exit from the Interstate Highways today, to interface with local rail operations such as yards, terminals, and local industrial switching. The SIS is not a high speed rail system for passenger trains; rather it is a vastly upgraded network of key rail corridors that can serve both freight and passenger trains in a range of speeds up to 110 mph on shared right-of-way, with a typical speed target of 79 mph.
- Reliability is very important to rail operations, both passenger and freight. Today, the nation’s rail system is characterized by much lower capacity, compared to earlier decades, and rapidly rising traffic. This combination is a surefire recipe for congestion, and congestion kills system reliability. The Steel Interstate will provide adequate capacity so that all trains, both passenger and freight, can move fluidly over the network without getting in each other’s way or having to stop and wait. This will enable rail freight to be more truck competitive and moving on the just-in-time schedules that shippers want. Passenger trains will be able to maintain published schedules, because they will be unencumbered by freight trains blocking the lines.
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