Making Government Work

Thanks to Uncle Sam, Our Trains Are Finally Getting a Sweet Upgrade

April 14, 2014
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Thanks to Uncle Sam, Our Trains Are Finally Getting a Sweet Upgrade
Luke Sharrett/Getty Images
It's about time that America's railroad system greens up.

Let’s face it, America’s antiquated rail lines aren’t much to brag about. But it finally looks like they will enter the 21st century after the government put down some serious cash for some sleek new trains.

As Think Progress reports, the Illinois Department of Transportation has spent $225 million on 32 diesel-electric passenger locomotives last month. If things go according to plan, by 2016, you will be able to hop aboard one of these trains (that travel at speeds of up to 125 mph) in Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.

MORE: Why Salt Lake City May Become the New Leader in Public Transportation

Citizens shouldn’t balk at this hefty price tag since these trains will actually play a big part in cutting carbon emissions. How so? According to a press release from Siemens (the manufacturer of the trains), “these modern locomotives are powerful and efficient and will deliver a cleaner ride, with better air quality and reduced emission rates ensuring compliance with the Federal Railroad’s EPA Tier IV regulation required to be in place in 2015.” Tier IV standards, by the way, require emissions of planet-harming particulate matter (soot) and nitrogen oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas) be reduced by about 90 percent.

Rail transportation is one of the greenest ways to travel. As Think Progress writes, trains account for about two percent of transportation emissions while cars are responsible for a whopping 70 percent. Since transportation is one of the biggest culprits to climate change, it’s about time the government makes a big investment on greener infrastructure such as this.

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