Rail electrification’s potential for emissions abatement in the freight industry : a case study of a transcontinental rail corridor

Walthall, Rydell Dexter
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This research examines freight rail electrification by creating an energy model to simulate trains along specific corridors. The parameters for the energy model were developed after an extensive literature review. Using publicly available data sources, the model was applied to simulate intermodal trains along the southern BNSF TransCon rail corridor between Los Angeles and Chicago. An economic model based on the simulation results shows freight rail electrification can bring significant returns on investment to private companies and produce large public benefits. Uncertainty in some of the parameters means there is a chance for the investment to perform poorly, however this risk can be mitigated by public policies. Public subsidies for capital, electricity, or tax credits might incentivize electrification while increasing net social benefits