The Denver Post
Freight trains deliver for Colo.
Re: “The need for speed,” Nov. 8 commentary
A column in The Post late last year about building high-speed passenger rail in Colorado quoted U.S. High-speed Rail Association CEO Andy Kunz as saying that it “takes visionary leadership and a real commitment to create a great rail system. It does cost more to do it right, but that’s what should be done.”
He was right. It is just this approach that has given us the greatest freight rail system in the world. Passenger advocates could learn from the freight rail experience. The same goes for Congress and the Biden administration.
While the benefits of high-speed passenger rail are prospective, freight rail already delivers for Coloradans. It would have taken an additional 7.7 million trucks to carry the 138.9 million tons of freight that Colorado railroads moved in 2019, according to the Association of American Railroads. Moving this freight by rail cuts greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
Since 1980, railroads have churned over
$740 billion of their own money back into the nationwide freight rail network. This makes it possible for a single train to carry several hundred truckloads, easing the burden on overcrowded highways — and on the taxpayers who pay for them.
Sen. John Hickenlooper serves on one of the congressional committees debating infrastructure legislation this month. Hopefully, lawmakers will take note of the freight railroads’ example of covering their own costs and supporting local businesses while also reducing emissions and alleviating highway congestion.
Emily Traiforos, Washington, D.C. Editor’s note: Traiforos is a multi-state director for Gorail, whose territory includes Colorado. Gorail is a nonprofit organization that promotes the public benefits of freight rail.