Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Europe’s high-speed trains: Less strain and at times faster than planes

The policy here is to find some sort of high speed rail news from somewhere on earth every day. It’s not hard. Today’s entry comes from the International Herald Tribune. It’s an informative read, so let me whet your appetite.

High-speed trains are often the fastest way to travel between city centers in Europe, beating short-haul flights for journeys of up to 550 kilometers. At speeds of up to 320 kilometers an hour, the train certainly takes the strain; compared to airports, high-speed train stations are stress-free citadels of peace.

Trains also score well on that shifting equation of comfort, convenience and cost. (On short-haul flights, flying time can be as little as 20 percent of total journey time.) What counts most with rail travel is the quality of uninterrupted time from the moment you board to the time you arrive: a train station’s 10-minute average check-in time for business travelers includes going through security. Take the laptop and do a pile of work in peace.

More good news. Any day now, the-cons who so fervently support the concept of high speed rail will start proposing funding for them.

But seriously, folks, transportation is becoming a serious quality of life issue. It is way too important to leave in the hands of a few airline and trucking interests.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

Keep track of your congressman

You never know where they have been or what other kinds of mutts they might have been playing around with. Vigilance is the watch word.

This House vote report (a pdf. file) was passed along by a helpful friend. It is “how they voted” on each of the wicked amendments designed to kill Amtrak’s entire network of long distance trains. In most instances, as is the case in Little Rock, this would completely end the only rail passenger service. Understanding the law and the railroad business, it is fair to say that once a route is killed, it is difficult and costly to restore operating conditions to passenger train standards. Opponents to good ground transportation understand this reality very well.

Arkansas’ congressional delegation, for the most part voted well. Then there is John Boozman (R-Wal Mart) whose vote suggests he hates the homeless more than Amtrak. (Honest, check it out!)

Amtrak’s appropriation moves along to the Senate. This is not enough money to meet the requirements of the long distance corridors of middle America, which are in desperate need to new equipment and improved stations. It is a bare bones measure and entirely in appropriate for the greatest nation on earth.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics

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July 2007