RailPAC submits comment letter to U.S. DOT on supply chain and freight issues

The majority of intercity and regional/commuter passenger rail service in the U.S. is on tracks shared with freight trains. Therefore, sufficient capacity, safety and reliability of the nation’s freight rail system is vital to the interest of rail passengers. These two different uses of railroad infrastructure need not be in conflict. Both passenger and freight trains sharing the same tracks will benefit from coordinated planning, efficient operations, and capital improvements.

RailPAC is pleased to offer this comment letter in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Request for Information: America’s Supply Chains and the Transportation Industrial Base (Docket No. DOT-OST-2021-0106). RailPAC has provided written responses to particular freight and logistics topics on which the DOT seeking information from the public, as described by the notice of request for information

RailPAC’s 11-page comment letter can be read below, or click here to download pdf.

U.S. Department of Transportation
West Building, Ground Floor (W12-140)
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590-0001.

October 17, 2021

Subject: U.S. DOT Request for Information: America’s Supply Chains and the Transportation Industrial Base (Docket No. DOT-OST-2021-0106)

To Whom it May Concern:

The Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC) is an all-volunteer, bi-state organization that has advocated for the improvement of passenger rail service since 1978.

RailPAC is pleased to offer this comment letter in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Request for Information: America’s Supply Chains and the Transportation Industrial Base (Docket No. DOT-OST-2021-0106). On the following tenpages are RailPAC’s written responses to particular freight and logistics topics on which the DOT seeking information from the public, as described by the notice of request for information.

The majority of intercity and regional/commuter passenger rail service in the U.S. is on tracks shared with freight trains. Therefore, sufficient capacity, safety and reliability of the nation’s freight rail system is vital to the interest of rail passengers.  These two different uses of railroad infrastructure need not be in conflict.  Both passenger and freight trains sharing the same tracks will benefit from coordinated planning, efficient operations, and capital improvements.

Thank you for this opportunity to provide comment on this vital issue.


Steve Roberts
Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC)
P.O. Box 22344
San Francisco, CA 94122

The identification of major infrastructure or operational bottlenecks and chokepoints across all aspects of the freight and logistics supply chain—including shipping/receiving, intermodal transfer, rail/water/truck transportation, warehousing, etc.—that slow or impede efficient cargo movement within the freight and logistics sector, and the most effective investments and management practice improvements that could be made to alleviate those bottlenecks.

Additional mainline railroad tracks needed in California, Nevada and Arizona, to relieve both freight and passenger movement bottlenecks/chokepoints:

  • UP Overland Route:
    • California:
      • 2nd main track restoration- Donner Pass
    • Nevada:
      • 3rd main track bypassing Sparks yard
      • 2nd main track various sections between Vista (MP 249) and Weso (MP 421)
      • Elko run-through tracks
  • UP South Central Route:
    • California:
      • 2nd main track, various sections between Yermo and Primm
    • Nevada:
      • 2nd main track, Las Vegas (3.3 miles between Arden and Maul Ave.)
      • Siding upgrades between Las Vegas and Utah
  • BNSF Cajon Subdivision:
    • 4th main track, Silverwood to Frost (San Bernardino County)
    • 3rd main track, Martinez to Barstow (San Bernardino County)
  • UP Mojave Subdivision:
    • 2nd main track, Devore to Rancho
    • 2nd main track, Tehachapi to Edison
  • BNSF San Bernardino Subdivision:
    • 4th main track, LA-Fullerton
    • 3rd main track, Fullerton-Riverside-San Bernardino
  • UP Alhambra Subdivision:
    • 2nd main track, Pomona to City of Industry (Los Angeles County)
    • 2nd main track, South Fontana to Reservoir (San Bernardino County)
  • UP Los Angeles Subdivision:
    • 2nd main track, completed within city of Riverside
  • UP Sunset Route, 3rd mainline track is needed in key sections:
    • California:
      • Colton to Coachella (76 miles) [ part of Coachella Valley Rail EIR]
    • Arizona:
      • Yuma to Wellton (31 miles)
      • Picacho to Tucson (47 miles)
  • UP Wellton Branch (Arizona):
    • Refurbishment and restoration of service between Phoenix and Wellton Junction (137 miles), including new sidings/ sections of 2nd main track.

New rail routes, bypasses and tunnels in California:

Most of California’s rail routes were built over a century ago, on routes which made sense given the goal back then was to build quickly with the limited technology of the time.  However, the same slow and winding routes are used by trains today, limiting their ability to compete with the highways.  New, more direct routes are now needed, and today are made possible with 21st century engineering and construction techniques. Bypasses are also needed for tracks at risk from sea level rise. New bypass tunnels that need to be planning priorities for the California include:

  • LOSSAN LA-San Diego: San Clemente, Del Mar, & Miramar/Rose Canyon
  • Altamont Pass
  • Cuesta Grade north of San Luis Obispo
  • Donner Pass “Base Tunnel(s)”

In addition to the large volume of trucks on highways between the Inland Empire and the Ports, there is also a large number of trucks to and from Mexico. A new freight line from the Mexican border at Otay Mesa, connecting to the LOSSAN Surf Line and the LA basin/Inland Empire, should also be studied. This should also be considered as part of the CHSRA’s Phase 2 plans to build a line to San Diego.  Future HSR track between Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and San Diego could host lightweight express freight trains at night, such as those common in Germany.

While not a new route, the restoration of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern line between Tijuana and the Imperial Valley (owned by San Diego County Metropolitan Transit System) would offer substantial congestion relief and environmental benefits by reducing cross-border truck traffic. 

On the UP track through Tehachapi pass, as a minimum the line should be completely double tracked. This would include several short tunnels west of Tehachapi, where the rail line is in a narrow canyon with California State Route 58 on the north side and the UP on the south. 

These major capital projects would pay for themselves over the decades by generating increased passenger and freight business for the railroads.

Improved freight rail links between California, Nevada and Arizona:

There are additional infrastructure needs beyond California borders when it comes to the short- and medium-distance container moves (under 500 miles) to the distribution centers in Sparks, Las Vegas and Phoenix.  Caltrans, the port authorities, Nevada, Arizona and the Federal government should partner on this.  With public improvements at key rail bottlenecks (i.e. the third main track over Beaumont Hill on the UP Sunset route) and other investments can improve railroad return-on-investment and shift these moves to rail.  Particularly important for restoring freight and passenger service between California and Phoenix is restoration of the out-of-service, UP-owned Wellton Branch in Arizona.  Running passenger trains to Phoenix via the Wellton Branch benefits UP freight traffic by freeing up capacity on the Sunset Route mainline. With longer distances combined with on-dock loading these markets are feasible in the near term. If the Norfolk Southern, CSX, Georgia, Virginia and the Ports of Norfolk and Savannah can make this work on the East coast, why not also the West coast?

Northern California and Nevada would greatly benefit from short-haul freight service along the Oakland – Sacramento – Reno corridor. In the winter, I-80 over Donner Pass has dangerous driving conditions with high risk of truck delays and accidents. Numerous shippers in this lane have expressed interest to UP in using ‘short-haul’ rail to cross Donner Pass. 

San Gorgonio Pass-Coachella Valley Rail initiative:

RailPAC fully supports the San Gorgonio Pass/Coachella Valley Rail initiative, including the preferred alternative of the construction of a new third mainline track along 76 miles of the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad’s existing Yuma Subdivision between Colton and Coachella. Given the capital costs of the third mainline track proposed from Colton to the Coachella Valley, RailPAC wants to emphasize the variety of benefits to passenger and freight rail that are possible with this investment in additional track capacity. Any proposed service in the Coachella Valley Rail (CVR) corridor, and the capital improvements associated with it, must be recognized as a building block for future service expansion.

The initiatives described below would add significant public value to public and private investment in a Colton-Coachella third mainline track:

  • Greater frequency and speed of CVR passenger trains. Improvements to the level of CVR service evaluated by this Tier 1/Program EIS/EIR recommended by RailPAC would require, and be enabled by, the third mainline track: far greater frequency (minimum of 6 round-trips per day, preferably 12 or more) and higher speed (a goal of at least 60 mph average speed, up from the roughly 45 mph currently proposed). Fast and frequent service, competitive with driving, is essential to attract a rail ridership significant enough to provide major public benefits of reduced traffic congestion and pollution on the I-10 corridor.
  • Daily Amtrak Sunset Limited. Increase of the frequency of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited from tri-weekly to daily service has long been a goal of RailPAC, All Aboard Arizona and other organizations. There has long been wide-ranging support in the Coachella Valley for a daily Sunset Limited. Also, Indio has been pushing for the Sunset Limited to return service to their community; and a new station built for the CVR service could also serve Amtrak trains. Of the multiple congestion bottlenecks along the Sunset Limited route between Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS) and New Orleans, the San Gorgonio Pass/Coachella Valley segment in Southern California is among the most important. These bottlenecks need to be relieved to allow daily service of this long-distance Amtrak Sunset Limited.

A daily Sunset Limited could complement the regional CVR service.  One of the markets served by Amtrak long-distance trains are shorter distance corridors. The Sunset Limited can add an extra schedule at off-peak times to add options and customer value to the CVR. The current schedule of the Sunset Limited which serves the Palm Springs station late in the evening/early in the morning almost certainly offers such an opportunity for additional short runs (e.g. LA to Palm Springs).

  • Benefits to UP freight rail. According to the CVR EIR documents, steady growth of UP freight traffic on the Yuma Subdivision is projected to increase to 88 daily one-way freight trips on the Colton-Coachella segment by 2044, more than double the 2018 average of 42 one-way freight trains per day. While UP has invested in many track capacity improvements on the Sunset Route over the years, one of its chokepoints remains the San Gorgonio Pass/Coachella Valley. With the new third main track, UP could run more conventional long-distance freight trains on the Sunset Route, and future short and medium-haul freight trains from LA/Inland Empire to the Coachella Valley and Arizona could be justified on public benefit of getting trucks off of I-10.
  • New California-Arizona regional passenger service.  For the long term, a daily Sunset Limited on its own is not sufficient to be the prime mover of rail passengers between LA, Coachella Valley, Phoenix and Tucson. Thus, Amtrak’s May 2021 Connects US ‘Corridor Vision’ proposed one daily roundtrip of a new LA-Arizona regional service, between LAUS, the Coachella Valley, Yuma, Phoenix and Tucson. RailPAC recommends that dedicated Southern California-Arizona corridor passenger trains should start with a minimum service of two daily trains each way, leaving morning and mid-day from both LA and Phoenix/Tucson (further complementing the Sunset Limited and future LAUS-Coachella Valley and Tucson-Phoenix trains).  The 2018 California State Plan (p. 37) recommended an ‘interstate blue ribbon commission’ in collaboration with Arizona for achieving improved California-Arizona future rail service. High speed rail on new, dedicated track along the I-10 corridor between LA, the Coachella Valley, Phoenix, and Tucson should also be studied. In addition to upgrading the existing Sunset Limited to daily service, there is a need for bringing it back to Phoenix Union Station by restoring the Wellton Branch west of Phoenix.

Technological practices, including data sharing, that are being implemented at various levels across the supply chain sector. What are the upsides, challenges, and drawbacks of further adoption?

While a lot of recent transportation planning has emphasized implementing advanced technology as a goal, one cautionary factor is that the pursuit of new technology could become an end in itself, resulting in a deferral of investment in proven systems.  In addition, we need to have a global perspective when viewing passenger and freight rail investments.  For example, high quality passenger rail service levels (and fast frequent freight trains) which many Americans may consider as being ‘futuristic’ or ‘unrealistic’, are, in fact, what Europe and Asia have had available for decades.  There is a wealth of global experience and proven “off the shelf” technology that the U.S. can utilize to address its transportation issues, particularly for rail electrification.

Actions that DOT or other agencies in the U.S. Government (USG) could take under existing authorities or in partnership with States, local governments, the private sector, or labor to address current and evolving challenges within the freight and logistics sector.

US DOT needs to take the lead in expansion of both freight and passenger rail in the U.S. Cohesive national planning of rail is needed, coordinating state and multi-state programs. In particular, the DOT should champion the expansion of Amtrak service nationwide.  It should also lead the electrification of rail, and the Federal government should provide funding and financing for it.

Increased Federal support of long-distance passenger rail:

Amtrak’s “National Network” long distance services- the Sunset Limited (Los Angeles – New Orleans), Southwest Chief (Los Angeles – Chicago), California Zephyr (Oakland – Chicago) and Coast Starlight (Los Angeles – Seattle)- are a key part of California’s transportation network.  These Amtrak trains allow Californians the option of traveling to a large matrix of cities big and small throughout the US. These trains also bring out-of-state visitors to California for vacations, to attend college and to visit family and friends. The Amtrak long-distance trains are also essential for interregional transportation within California. Overall direct and indirect spending associated with these rail passenger services generates over a billion dollars in yearly spending in California.

These long-distance rail routes not only serve underserved rural areas, they also represent key frequencies in existing and emerging corridors.  For example, the Coast Starlight is a key frequency for the Coast Line serving the Los Angeles – Santa Barbara – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) corridor, San Luis Obispo – Salinas – San Jose – Oakland – Sacramento corridor and the San Jose Oakland – Sacramento Capitol Corridor. Amtrak long-distance service offers a more energy efficient alternative to driving or flying these routes fulfill the goal of reduced GHG emissions.

Amtrak long distance trains are essential for economies of rural, smaller, or under resourced communities across the nation.  Serving rural cities across America that have limited or no air or motor coach service, providing an option for those who cannot fly or drive for medical or physical reasons these routes expand accessibility for rural residents. Utilizing existing transportation assets (i.e., freight rail infrastructure), these routes reduce environmental impacts.  By facilitating options for those who choose to live dependent on non-auto modes these routes advance quality of life, more long-distance passenger rail service options add to system resiliency and safety. Frequencies of long-distance trains should be at least doubled from the present once per day departures. Finally, as was noted above, Amtrak’s long-distance routes generate strong economic activity.  These routes also aid rural cities in maintaining and enhancing their often historic downtown businesses.

More Federal support for Amtrak long-distance passenger service will also benefit freight rail.  One recent example is that of communities in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico along the route of the Amtrak Southwest Chief stepping up to help secure funding for infrastructure projects that kept the train in service.  In particular, the federal TIGER grant awarded to Colfax County, New Mexico for maintenance and refurbishment of the BNSF-owned line over Raton Pass will also benefit freight trains which could use the route.

Recommended actions by non-Federal entities, including State and local governments, private firms, labor, and other participants in the freight and logistics sector that could be encouraged by DOT/USG.

States should invest more in rail, although the Federal government should provide a lot more than it does (on a state/federal match ratio similar to highways). 

Adverse effects of Class 1 railroad cost-cutting:

Coordination with “host railroads”, usually one of the Class I railroads, is vital for safe and efficient passenger rail operations.  Most commuter, regional and intercity passenger rail services in the U.S. run on tracks shared with freight trains.  Additional freight capacity facilitates more passenger rail frequencies, fewer delays and faster service.  However, on-time performance is a persistent and on-going issue.  Lack of sufficient maintenance and capital infrastructure work by the host railroads also hurts the safety and reliability of passenger service. Under Federal law, the Class I railroads have common carrier obligations to serve the public interest.  This includes sufficient accommodation of passenger trains.

On railroad issues, leadership of the Federal government is essential because states and local governments own a very small percentage of the nation’s railroad tracks and have limited influence and jurisdiction over private interstate railroad companies. Even the paying customers of the Class I railroads have little influence over their operations and business decisions. Unlike the public sector, which measures success with volume metrics, most privately-funded railroad companies measure their success with yield metrics and maximizing revenue with the minimum of capital investment.  The result is that profitable but low-yielding traffic is discouraged in order to create capacity for higher yielding traffic, or “demarketing” of a large base of existing (or former) customers. Service has been cut off entirely for some.

Last-mile local service is diverted through high pricing to mainline transload centers. The result is more truck traffic on the highways, low volume growth and a decline in rail market share. For example, in California both UP and BNSF or their prior owners operated intermodal yards in Fresno and Bakersfield. Containers and trailers for those cities are now moved by truck from terminals in Stockton/Modesto or Los Angeles. This rate-of-return metric has been successful in yielding strong cash flows even during the latest recession.  But this creates a conflict with state, regional and local planning goals, and increases pollution, road wear and congestion. 

The recent backlog and congestion of containers that need to be moved to and from California ports has also been made much worse by Class I decisions to reduce terminal capacity, rolling stock and workforce in the past several years. The railroads are common carriers, chartered to operate for the public convenience and necessity. However, they can avoid shipments they don’t want, by setting conditions such as price, service, or reliability, that drive those shipments onto highways.

The latest iteration of this Class I railroad strategy has resulted in public impacts far beyond additional truck traffic. For example, UP, which owns and operates almost 3,300 miles of track in California, has been adopting what they call Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) in order to cut costs. UP is operating longer and heavier trains, some two miles or more in length, which are slower to accelerate. The industry standard pre-PSR was 11,000 feet for long distance freight trains, which is over two miles. Under PSR the trains have grown to over 18,000 feet, almost three and a half miles long. This results in longer wait times for vehicles and pedestrians at grade crossings and more delays to passenger trains.  This inconveniences the public (hundreds of people at a time), creates more pollution from idling vehicles, delays passenger trains (making them less competitive), negatively impacts fire, police and ambulance response times, and interrupts the flow of local commerce.  Class I railroads have made these cost-cutting changes without the corresponding investments in yards, highway overpasses and longer sidings to mitigate the negative impact on the public.

While some state and local governments are striving to improve the yield of traffic by investing substantial public funds to support freight railroads (new track, grade-separated crossing and other capacity projects), a broader analysis and investigation by the DOT/STB of the impact of the different goals of the Class I railroads (maximize yield) is warranted. Also worthy of federal investigation is the laying off of tens of thousands of railroad employees over the past several years, a period which has seen the profits of major railroads skyrocket.  Radical reductions in workforce have resulted in remaining employees working longer hours (increasing fatigue), and being forced to performed duties they are not qualified for – all resulting higher rate of accidents.  For passenger trains, a reduced Class I railroad workforce means more delays and a higher risk of accidents.

Increasing the mode share of freight rail:

Emissions from goods movement (particularly from diesel trucks) is a significant part of the nation’s air pollution.  Diesel exhaust is a major source of greenhouse gas, particulate matter and smog-forming NOx emissions. In addition, there are other forms of pollution, including non-exhaust particulate matter such as brake, tire, and road wear and dust. Although rail facilities are the subject of substantial pollution complaints, the larger problem is the truck traffic associated with the facilities. 

Reducing truck vehicle miles travelled (VMT) should be a major goal and guiding principle of national freight planning. Compared to trucks, moving a ton-mile of freight by rail uses 1/3rd to 1/5th the energy or fuel, and produces 1/3rd to 1/5th the emissions. This is true whether the comparison is between diesel truck and diesel-electric train, or electric truck and electric train. Moving freight by rail is also much safer than trucking, with far fewer accidents per mile travelled compared to road transportation. Another competitive advantage for moving freight by rail is that it is much less likely that the cargo moved would be involved in an accident. If properly maintained, the smoother ride of steel wheels on rails also results in less likelihood of damage to goods than shipment by truck.

Freight sprawl is the building of warehouses, distribution centers and other freight facilities on cheap land in rural areas or suburban/exurban fringes of metropolitan areas only accessible by road, and a long distance from urban centers. Freight sprawl is a major driver of increased truck VMT in the U.S. Rail-oriented freight development, similar to rail or transit-oriented residential development, needs to be studied by the DOT. In particular, the DOT should actively encourage freight rail as an alternative to truck drayage between the nation’s ports and inland destinations. With frequent short- and medium-haul freight rail shuttle trains, much of this freight presently moved exclusively by highway may be shifted to rail, to reduce highway congestion and pollution. Significant numbers of import/export containers that congest ports and highways need to be transported on short-haul, inland port trains to relieve that congestion. The 2018 California State Rail Plan described the potential benefits of short-haul freight shuttle trains (pg. 168): 

Short-haul rail shuttles connecting ports with inland regions hosting substantial international trade-related distribution activity offer the opportunity to improve the velocity of the flow of goods into and out of the densely populated regions of Southern California and San Francisco Bay Area. With sufficiently high volumes, short-haul rail shuttles transfer the volume of freight truck traffic away from the already congested highways, particularly in and around the major ports. The capital investment in short-haul rail shuttle improvement can be made using the Traffic Congestion Relief Program funds, given a clear analysis of how the rail shuttle can help relieve congestion on roadways. The feasibility of short-haul rail shuttles is highly sensitive to the differential in costs between rail and highway transportation, and would require efficient operation to maximize their viability, and to capture a better rate of return on the investment of public funds.

Short and medium-haul freight rail service would build upon, and add value to, the large freight rail infrastructure investments being made by private railroad companies and public agencies. These faster, shorter freight trains are also more compatible to the scheduling and dispatching of frequent passenger trains sharing the same route.

Rail vs. freeway expansions:

Many strategic rail assets are nearing the ends of their useful lives.  Some are functionally obsolete and many rail segments are threatened by sea level rise. Transportation planning needs to consider the long-term maintenance costs of these life-expired assets. Public and private investments to modernize these life-expired rail assets will yield maintenance cost savings for the state over the next several decades while improving service.  The shift of traffic from highways to rail also helps lower the maintenance cost of roads as a result of reduced wear and tear.

California is spending billions of dollars on freeway expansions, and has more unfunded freeway expansions in the planning stages. The ‘induced demand’ of more traffic congestion caused by road capacity expansion, increased pollution, and the painful and unjust legacy of Californians displaced by freeway construction are well-documented.  We could achieve greater reduction in GHG emissions if a portion of this money was spent on rail capital improvement projects instead. Highway funding needs to focus on repaving and maintaining existing highways and streets, and not expansion of the highway network. The nation has a tremendous backlog of street and road maintenance and repair projects, and will continue to for the foreseeable future. 

Rail electrification:

The 2018 California State Rail Plan endorses electrification on California’s key passenger rail lines.  Rail electrification is a proven technology in use throughout the world, available today without expensive and lengthy technological development.  Electric trucks do not yet have the range and load capacity for interregional freight movement, and are not expected to be commercially available for many years. While zero emissions, electric trucks alone will not significantly reduce total energy use and congestion, rail may significantly reduce both. Less electricity needs to be pulled off the grid to move the same amount of freight by electric train, compared to electric truck.  Electric trucks don’t reduce highway use or reduce congestion. Catenary overhead wire electrified rail transport will not generate the future glut of discarded batteries that electric highway vehicles will.  Finally, electric trucks are very expensive- expected to cost as much as three times the cost of a new diesel truck, with significantly less range and payload capacity.

The electrification of the Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose (and subsequent California High Speed Rail plan) provides a national model for passenger and freight rail electrification, by providing experience in electrification construction, implementation and operations. In Southern California, electrification and other upgrades to the Burbank-LA-Anaheim corridor by CHSRA, in collaboration with those made by other public agencies and BNSF, would be a great public benefit to both passenger and freight rail service.  The heavy train traffic of this corridor would lead to improved economics and higher utilization of electric rail infrastructure, if used by both electric passenger and freight trains sharing the corridor.

The USDOT needs to develop and implement policies that will electrify the national rail network, to accompany projects that facilitate and encourage the mode shift of highway passenger and freight traffic to rail.  The federal government should also emphasize conventional overhead wire electrification for interregional rail, instead of hydrogen locomotives, which are not a proven technology and have very limited range compared to conventional diesel locomotives. California high-speed rail infrastructure can be shared with lightweight express freight trains running late at night or other off-peak times on HSR tracks. U.S. freight railroads have mostly given up on short haul service and expedited delivery.

The ‘blended’ CHSRA Burbank-Los Angeles-Anaheim-Irvine corridor could serve as a catalyst for electric regional passenger and freight rail for the rest of Southern California.  An existing model for “blended services”, combining electrified higher-speed / high-speed passenger trains and express freight trains, can be found in Germany and other countries. Freight trains in Germany operate in mixed traffic with commuter, regional, long distance, and high-speed passenger trains on lines with maximum speeds of up to 150 mph. Electric freight trains in Germany typically operate at 60-70 mph. German 90 mph freight trains were common in the past, but that speed was found to be too costly to be beneficial to the commercial service.

In Europe, many HSR lines share some of the track with conventional passenger trains or even freight trains, at least in terminal areas. Where the track is shared with other types of traffic, the HSR trains are generally limited to no more than 155 mph. Almost all high-speed rail trains in Europe access city terminals on the conventional network at conventional speed. The general characteristics of freight trains in the US and in Europe generally prohibit such shared operation. US freight trains are very long, heavy, and slow for political and business reasons. However, there is a large amount of lightweight and time-sensitive freight currently hauled by truck in the US that could be moved on trains similar to European freight trains, allowing the shared use of conventional trains and some HSR trains. Freight-passenger combination trains should also be investigated for California. Express or lightweight freight trains could offer passenger service to underserved rural areas of the state such as the Central Valley and the Central Coast.