No, it's not Superman -- it's a train

News & Politics

Here's a lede, you guess the date:

"ALBANY -- A project to ship fresh produce by train nonstop from the Pacific Northwest to Albany is expected to create 200 jobs here, an official with the distribution company involved in the effort said Monday."

1878? How about August 16, 2005?

Not since Cornelius Vanderbilt has the rail industry made a mass hiring announcement, yet that's exactly what's going on in the Summer of Oil. With the average price of diesel at $2.56, rail is suddenly a competitive transport industry. Union Pacific just announced it was hiring 6,000 new operators, and a bunch of smaller companies have followed suit. The Northwest produce story is a case in point, and the benefits of going rail extend beyond cost savings of course (less traffic, pollution, more opportunities for kids to create gigantic flattened pennies):

With rising fuel prices, the biggest cost advantage will be in diesel fuel. [the spokesperson] estimated each train will save five million gallons of fuel in a one-year period over the equivalent number of trucks making the roughly 3,000-mile trip. Eventually, he hopes to add a second weekly train.
Great that Albany wants Northwestern fruit, but what will it send on the train ride back? "One challenge will be finding cargo to ship back to the West Coast." Albany, like the rest of America, doesn't produce much of anything anymore, and even though there's going to be a lot more trains running, just as it is with trucks, most of the cargo is stamped "Made in China."

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