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high speed rail

RWU Resolution on Rail Improvement/Development in North America

By RWU Steering Committe - Railroad Workers United, June 2, 2021

Whereas, the US, Canada, and Mexico have a vast existing rail network, with the U.S. rail network alone at more than 140,000 miles, the world’s largest: and

Whereas, this vast network can be vastly improved in the coming years - through electrification, multiple tracking, higher speed limits, grade crossing eliminations, and increased train frequencies - to serve a far greater number of shippers and passengers than at present; and

Whereas, these improvements can be made cheaper, be implemented far quicker, and serve a far greater constituency than would the construction of an entirely new network; and

Whereas, making use of existing right-of-way can avoid many of the controversies (e.g. land condemnations, environmental concerns, high price tags, etc.), construction delays, and cost overruns that can be associated with “high speed rail” (HSR) projects; and

Whereas, the North American public conversation across society more than ever supports transportation infrastructure repair and improvement projects, especially rail, that include everyone who lives here; and

Whereas, the decisions we make regarding these projects now will highly affect our future health, safety, and economic prosperity for generations to come; and

Whereas, railroaders know from experience around the world that true HSR can and must be a critical part of 21st century sustainable environmentally sound transportation future; and

Whereas, High Speed Rail projects that only serve elites or which dismiss problems of climate, access, safety, and justice will leave the public hostile towards rail solutions; and

Whereas, the majority of the currently proposed HSR projects are exclusively passenger service projects that principally serve communities who already have access; and

Whereas, available funding for these “HSR” projects has the potential to absorb significant financial resources that could otherwise be made available to upgrade, expand, and develop our existing rail network that serves both passenger and freight; and

Whereas, rail lines that currently exist in unconnected communities are now often at risk for abandonment, and once they are gone, recovering them for public benefit will be difficult if not impossible to accomplish; and

Whereas, railroad workers want to have a safe and secure future, and therefore must not leave the key policy decisions about that future up to those who regard them as disposable in an industry dominated by finance and Wall Street; and

Whereas, many so-called HSR passenger-only projects are designed to substitute glitzy technology for trained and skilled railroad workers, putting communities at risk;

Therefore, be it Resolved that Railroad Workers United calls for rail development projects that up-grade low as well as high end speed for both passenger and freight trains, remove barriers like road crossings at grade and build capacity and environmentally sustainable safe rail transport for the future of all stakeholders (workers, passengers, shippers, trackside communities, etc); and

Be it Further Resolved, that Railroad Workers United does not support “high speed rail” projects that exclude freight service trains and do not reconnect excluded communities; and

Be it Further Resolved, that RWU opposes diverting crucial funding necessary to upgrade existing rail infrastructure to “high speed” experiments that only serve elites; and

Be it Finally Resolved that RWU calls upon railroaders, trade unions, rail advocates and allies to join with RWU in advocating for a broad array of integrated rail solutions that will make railroads a key part of the Green transportation future that serves our whole society.

Biden’s Climate Pledge Is a Promise He Cannot Keep

By Howie Hawkins - Solidarity, May 4, 2021

IWW EUC web editor's disclaimer: the IWW does not advoate electralism or endorse political parties, including the Green Party. This article is included to provide a critique of the reformism of the Democratic Party (a similar critique could be offered about the Greens and all other parties).

The climate emergency demands a radical and rapid decarbonization of the U.S. economy with numerical goals and timetables to transform all productive sectors, not only power production (27% of carbon emissions), but also transportation (28%), manufacturing (22%), buildings (12%), and agriculture (10%). It also requires that the U.S. pay its “climate debt” as the world’s largest historical carbon emitter and destroyer of carbon-storing forests, wetlands, and soils. Paying that climate debt would not only be reparations to the Global South for deforestation and fossil fuel emissions by the rich capitalist countries, but also an investment in the habitability of the planet for everyone. This emergency transformation can only be met by an ecosocialist approach emphasizing democratic public enterprise and planning.

Instead, Biden’s plan features corporate welfare: subsidies and tax incentives for clean energy that will take uncertain effect at a leisurely pace in the markets. It does nothing to stop more oil and gas fracking and pipelines for more gas-fired power plants, or to shut down coal-fired power plants. Without out directly saying so, it is a plan to burn fossil fuels for decades to come.

The scale of spending falls pathetically short of what is needed to decarbonize the economy. An effective plan would not only reach zero emissions on a fast timeline. It would also move quickly toward negative emissions. We have to draw carbon out of the atmosphere because we are already well past carbon levels that are triggering dangerous climate change.

Biden’s stated goal of a 50% cut in emissions does not actually cut current emissions in half. His proposed 50% cut is from a baseline of 2005 when emissions were at their peak, not what they are today. Emissions were 6 GtC (gigatons of carbon dioxide) in 2005. Due to a leveling of electric power demand, a trend away from coal to wind, solar, and gas for electric power, and more energy-efficient vehicles, U.S. emissions were down 13% from 2005 by 2019 to 5.1 GtC and, due to the covid contraction, down 21% in 2020 to 4.6 GtC, although emissions are now soaring back up as the economy re-opens. Biden’s goal of 50% below 2005 is 3 GtC per year in emissions instead of 2.5 GtC if 2019 were the baseline, or 2.3 GtC if 2020 were the baseline.

Biden provided no explanation for how the U.S. will get to the precisely stated range of “50% to 52%.” 52% seems to be an arbitrary number pulled out of the air so he can say he is aiming for more than 50%. Greta Thunberg’s video prebuttal to the targets that were to be announced by Biden and the other 40 world leaders at his Earth Day Climate Summit saw right through the staged spectacle. “We can keep cheating in order to pretend that these targets are in line with what is needed, but while we can fool others, and even ourselves, we cannot fool nature and physics… Let’s call out their bullshit.”

A Rapid and Just Transition of Aviation: Shifting towards climate-just mobility

By staff - Stay Grounded, February 2021

Covid-19 has grounded air traffic. The aviation industry itself expects to be operating at a lower capacity over the next few years. This Paper discusses how long-term security for workers and affected communities can be guaranteed, without returning to business as before. 

With the looming climate breakdown, automation, digitalisation and likely climate induced pandemics, we need to be realistic: aviation and tourism will change – and they will do so either by design or by disaster. They will transition either with or without taking into account workers’ interests.

This Discussion Paper, published by the Stay Grounded Network and the UK Trade Union PCS in February 2021, is a result of a collective writing process by people active in the climate justice movement, workers in the aviation sector, trade unionists, indigenous communities and academics from around the world. It aims to spark debates and encourage concrete transition plans by states, workers and companies.

Read the text (PDFs: EN | DA | DE | ES | FR | PT ).

Why US Railroads should Electrify their Mainlines

Appeal from the Families of the Four No-TAV Demonstrators Arrested for Terrorism

From libcom.org, February 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

An extremely moving and heartfelt appeal from the families of four No Tav protesters, charged with terrorism and held in maximum security detention for allegedly damaging equipment on construction sites for the high speed rail link.

You’ve heard them talked about over the past few weeks. They are the people arrested on 9 December and charged (still to be proven) with attacking the TAV construction site in Chiomonte. A compressor was damaged in this attack and not a single person was injured. The charge, though, is of terrorism because ‘in this context’ these alleged actions ‘could have’ created panic in the population and severe damage to Italy. What? Damage to the public image. We’ll say it again: to the public image. The charge is based on the potential of this behaviour but, as the crime of unintentional terrorism does not exist in our legal system, this charge is of real and intentional terrorism. To make things clear, this is the same charge as in the ’70s and ’80s massacres, the bombs on trains and in the piazzas and, recently, in airports, underground metros and skyscrapers. Terrorism against people who were oblivious and unaware, which killed and which, yes, terrorised the entire population.

By contrast, our sons, brothers, sisters have always respected the lives of other people. They are generous people, they have ideas, they want a better world and are struggling to achieve that. They fight against every form of racism, denouncing the horrors of the CIE detention centres long before the press and public opinion discovered them and about which there is so much indignation today. They have created space and moments of confrontation. They’ve chosen to defend the life of an area, not to terrorise the population. Everyone in Val Susa will tell you this, as they are doing continually on their websites. And are these the people being terrorised? And can a burnt compressor really create severe damage to Italy?

The Fine Print I:

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