The Surface Transport Policy Partnership has announced a new coalition called OneRail, which is dedicated to improving both passenger and freight rail service in the United States. The US is far behind other industrialized countries in its use of rail, especially when compared to Germany, France, or Japan, and of course a consequence of this is America's status as the world's premier energy glutton. In their words:
- The nation's passenger train network must be strengthened and expanded. Expanding intercity and commuter passenger train options for travel between and into the nation's urban centers would substantially reduce vehicle miles traveled, aviation and highway congestion, fuel consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions.
- A sound and balanced transportation policy should encourage the development of passenger train options for the public, addressing a critical missing link in our nation's surface transportation system. Investments must ensure safety, achieve reasonable service levels, provide enough capacity to protect the operations and future growth of both rail freight and passenger service, and address liability concerns. Going forward, capacity will be a critical factor shaping the freight rail/passenger rail interface. Access to freight infrastructure and rights of way for new passenger service should be achieved on a cooperative, voluntary basis, without infringing on Amtrak's existing rights. To ensure that both freight and passenger service is maximized in high-density corridors, public policy should also envision separate rights of way for freight and passenger operations where separation is warranted.
- OneRail supports state efforts to seek an ongoing, dedicated funding source for intercity passenger rail expansion, including a federal-state partnership and cost sharing agreements similar to the partnerships that built the nation's federal-aid highways and transit systems. Rail freight capacity must expand to meet projected economic demand and increase the railroad industry's current traffic share. Private investment in the nation's freight rail network has been, and will remain, the primary means of maintaining and expanding freight rail infrastructure.
- To ensure that freight rail capacity meets growing demand, Congress should enact policies and programs that expand public and private investment in rail freight mobility and assure continued growth in private investment in rail freight capacity.
- The OneRail coalition supports additional investment in the nation's rail infrastructure to create American jobs, de-congest chokepoints, put more freight and passengers on fuel-efficient trains, and reduce our nation's greenhouse gas emissions.
Bringing that sort of thing back in a big way would do much to help put "civil" back into "civilization."