The most recent Railroad Heritage included a lengthy article by J. C. Thorpe, who has illustrated a number of interesting concept rail projects over the years.

One such concept is the Shenandoah Rail Corridor, which I have alluded to previously: it's a way to take some of the pressure off Interstate 81, which is a road congested and pounded to pieces by semis.

Seems like a logical candidate for a public-private partnership, providing the freight railroads with additional capacity for van trains, plus a corridor for faster passenger trains.  Something like this.

In his article, Mr Thorpe noted the electric freight locomotive originally wore the colors of Norfolk Southern.  But a representative of Norfolk Southern, in commenting on the project, asked Mr Thorpe to change the lettering on the motor.  The railroad wanted nothing of the project.  Why not?  "If this sort of thing continues, it will mean nothing less than the passengerization of the industry."

Put another way, the existing railroad, mingling container trains with the remaining coal traffic, and general freight out of the south (the railroads still move a lot of plywood, for instance) appeals to Norfolk Southern in a way that this upgrade, which would involve shared operating rights, does not.

I had suspected the major freight carriers didn't like taking public money if it involved improving the passenger network, but to refer to such projects as "passengerization" comes as a surprise.

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