From: Erik Brom
I’m responding to Kent Pehler’s letter “Expanding insolvent passenger rail?” I first want to point out some factual errors.
He states that railroads have not been forced to improve emissions like other modes have. Actually, they have been subject to four tiers of increasingly stringent limits. Here are a couple links about this:
www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/final-rule-emission-standards-locomotives-and-locomotive, www.bts.gov/content/federal-exhaust-emissions-standards-locomotives. Here’s an interesting article about how GE met the requirements: www.wired.com/2015/05/tech-makes-ges-new-locomotive-cleanest-ever.
I’m not against pipelines, but Kent claims that they are “zero emissions.” They do need pumps to move the materials along, though. Here’s a link to some info on pipelines: www.aboutpipelines.com/en/pipeline-101/how-pipelines-work. In the natural gas pipeline section they talk about large compressors, up to 36,000 horsepower, to pump the gas. Those certainly won’t be zero emissions.
The majority of the rail safety issues are from highway vehicles driving into the path of trains. That is why crossings need warning devices, but for an old industry, an amazing amount of technology is being applied. Positive train control is a big one (railroads.dot.gov/train-control/ptc/positive-train-control-ptc). Sensing and detection to find defects in track and rail cars before they fail is continually evolving as technology advances.
Finally, he states that passenger rail shouldn’t be expanded until it makes a profit. My opinion is that if we apply that criteria to one mode, it should be applied to all. So let’s stop spending more money on roads and highways until they make a profit. Really, no mode makes a profit, and all are important.
I agree with him that work needs to be done in Winona to reduce the vehicle wait time at crossings.