Interstate Freight Train System
The current freight train system is extremely efficient, at least four times more efficient than moving goods by truck. However, about half of all freight train traffic is used to transport coal, which would disappear in a sustainable society. Freight trains can be converted to use electricity, however, and they could replace the use of large, long-distance trucks, if -- and this is a big if -- commercial areas were concentrated in town and city centers, instead of being strewn all across the landscape in malls and strip malls. If every town and city had at least one train station that could accommodate freight, then the energy needs of the country would be vastly reduced (trucks use about 1/8th of all oil). A freight system centered on trains would also require that factories be somewhat concentrated geographically. If all city regions had a ring of factories around them, it would be relatively easy to construct a rail line that would connect all factories to all city and town centers.
According to Drake et al , a $500 billion investment would create a very efficient national freight rail system. Drake et al’s plan also would upgrade much of the passenger rail system that is not part of the high-speed rail system.
If constructed over 20 years, assuming 20,000 jobs per $1 billion invested, at $25 billion per year, this would result in 500,000 more jobs per year, and we could assume that about one quarter of these would be manufacturing jobs.