I think the risks for rail are all coming at once. Oil and coal are significant cargo which is going away. Add a lower cost for trucking pulling away more cargo from trains and I see the rail companies potentially being cut in half (whatever that means... Traffic/volume). Potential bankruptcyTuSimple is a self-driving long haul trucking company already operating in the US south. Add electrification and I am starting to come around to the idea that this will eat pretty significantly into rail traffic--or rail really has to up in game from a service point of view to remain competitive.
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Interesting to think what this does to railroads. Do they remain viable? Do they need to merge? Do high value ROWs for passenger rail get freed up (North Toronto sub)?
It definitely feels like autonomous electric HOV vehicles (aka minibuses) will have potential for longer distance regional travel, too. Especially if we can create dedicated HOV lanes for them. They should be quite affordable and effective for travel time, just need to give them appropriate priority over single occupancy vehicles.