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Regional freight (deliveries to grocery stores) could be done with a shared infrastructure. That's a significantly different sort of freight train from what we have now. Whether they could be made to go 100 mph in the front range corridor is another question--there are lots of steep hills.

Here's a picture of the two rights of way (one Union Pacific, ex-D&RGW; one BNSF, ex-Santa Fe) near Castle Rock. Full coal cars go south, empties go north.

by asdf on Sat Dec 13th, 2008 at 04:09:02 PM EST
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The Rapid Freight Rail could be anything in containers that currently goes long distance by truck.

Even where the speed cannot be 100mph in a section, Rapid Rail can be substantially faster than bulk freight.

The key thing is what's called "superelevation", which is how the track is banked going around the curve.

The correct banking to maintain even weight distribution between the two rails depends on the speed. So if slow bulk freight is using the track, those tracks have little or no superelevation, because the banking would put most of the weight on one track, and the maintenance costs and risk of derailment go up.

However, take advantage of the fact that there is room in either one of those corridors for two tracks, and one track can be dedicated to heavy rail, and the other to Rapid Rail. And the Rapid Rail can be superelevated to allow the Rapid Rail to negotiate those curves much faster than the coal trains can do.

Indeed, they can negotiate the curves fast enough that it would be uncomfortable to passengers, which is why passenger trains on Rapid Rail track in a conventional rail right of way will often be tilt-trains.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 13th, 2008 at 04:28:38 PM EST
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