Freight on HSR tracks: a dumb idea
Date: 05-04-2021 - 22:19
Freight on HSR ROW is a dumb idea and will blow costs further through the roof.
HSR can easily handle 4% grades, if not even steeper. I gather that many years ago when SNCF approached California officials with a plan for Altamont - I-5 - Grapevine, complete with private financing, the ruling grade they designed for was 5%. Brightline Victorville - Las Vegas is somewhere around 4.5%. Do not try this with heavy diesel freight trains.
Then there is the issue of track maintenance. US freight equipment is maintained to the minimum “derailments are a cost of doing business” standard, and will absolutely ruin the alignment of FRA Class 9 HSR trackage. The Europeans tried fast freight on their HSR infrastructure, using their 22500 kg axle load limit, and it never penciled out. Imagine 32000 kg per axle with wheels that aren’t even round!