As it's running today, rail is so 19th century — but it is full of raw potential to modernize the shipping industry. Rail is the best bet toward modernizing goods movement and dealing squarely with a number of serious or nagging environmental problems. These include:
There are two approaches to modernize rail.
Of these, maglev offers the greatest promise but also has the most unanswered questions. Fortunately, the folks at CCDoTT are studying maglev to find those answers and help guide it into service. The Port of Los Angeles is also embarking on a pilot program to test a maglev delivery system. Rail offers the easiest way to start moving forward. Both approaches need a number of key changes:
For maglev, which would use newly constructed "guideways" — many of these features come automatically. For conventional rail, they must be deliberate changes which are part of a package deal.
So, we support the elimination of all grade crossings for rail, but only if it part of a program that moves all these objectives forward. Getting rid of all the grade crossing without these other features is an environmental disaster in the making. We'll end up moving containers longer distances as they travel from San Pedro Bay out to Riverside or San Bernardino to be shuffled and shipped back to Los Angeles area warehouses.
In the process, we'll burn more fuel, create more emissions, cause more health issues, emit more climate changing gasses, create far more noise and contribute to sprawl and blight in our Inland Valleys.
We oppose any method to increase capacity, including rail, if it is not connected to a technology that can truly deliver the promise of a clean environment, good working conditions and efficient cargo movement. We believe rail can do all these things, but only if we set out to make it happen.