Your editorial (“Train vs. bus choice should hinge on growth,” March 18) couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

The choice of rail is of course correct and the reasoning, outlined in Paul Weiss’ column (Maine Voices, Feb. 15) leaves us no doubt. But, to take it a step further, the choice of electric rail would be even more correct. In fact, what we should do at this fortuitous juncture is electrify our entire rail system. I say fortuitous because Dame Fortune will soon be providing us with the several essential ingredients necessary to make it happen.

First, the era of plentiful, low-cost electric power could be just around the corner. Deep-water wind turbines, now on the drawing board, have been endorsed by Gov. John Baldacci and former Gov. Angus King.

These turbines individually produce several megawatts of power and thousands may eventually dot our coast. This additional non-polluting, renewable energy will be combined with and added to power already available on grids serving the entire state. A portion could be earmarked for trains.

Second, CMP is currently contemplating a major upgrade of power distribution facilities statewide. This project could be expanded to include service to electrified rail terminals. It is perfect timing.

Third, fast and powerful electric locomotives are available and in use today not far from here. The GE E60, designed and built in the ’70s for high-speed Amtrak passenger service, is still running in the Northeast corridor.

The end of the petroleum age is not far ahead.

Let’s use what we have left to get electric rail built here in Maine. Let’s do it now, lest fortune pass us by.

 


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