Earlier this month, Sierra Club released a statement regarding passenger and freight rail, and rail electrification. It aims to inform the public on how rail investments have benefits such as fighting climate change, increasing equitable mobility, and creating good jobs. It also includes recommendations on how to implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding for rail.
“This is more than just an update,” said Anne Macquarie, Co-Chair of the Nevada Rail Coalition and member of the Transportation Committee of the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter. “It is Sierra Club’s comprehensive re-visioning of the role rail – both passenger and freight – must play in a post-carbon economy.” Macquarie was on the team that wrote the statement.
The statement makes broad and specific recommendations for passenger rail, freight rail, rail labor and education, rail electrification, and federal railroad policy reform. It outlines how passenger rail should be fast and reliable enough to compete with cars, and convenient for all types of travel, not just commutes. For freight rail, it recommends investments that encourage safe, energy efficient, and cost-effective movement.
In order to support this, the statement asks the federal government to develop training programs to make sure railroad personnel are prepared the operate this improved rail network, to develop rail electrification programs with heavily-polluted trackside communities as a priority, and to implement a version of European fee-based rail rentals that allows equitable access to railroads for all types of movement.
“Partnerships and coalitions with (rail workers’) unions can amplify and enhance our work by providing political strength and hands-on knowledge of the freight and passenger rail industry,” concludes the statement in a section that outlines next steps for Sierra Club and its members. The Nevada Rail Coalition, of which Sierra Club is a member, brings together unions and environmental organizations with the purpose of building an expanded and more robust rail system.
“I hope our partner transportation activists – both within the Sierra Club and in other organizations – can make extensive use of it,” Macquarie said regarding the statement.