Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Diane Rehm Show



Ross B. Capon, executive director, National Association of Railroad Passengers

Rep. Ernest J. Istook, Jr., former congressman from Oklahoma and chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation; distinguished fellow, the Heritage Foundation

Derrick Cain, reporter, Bureau of National Affairs

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey

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Some thoughts… O typed these out while I was listening.

  • Could NPR make this show any stiffer and stuffier?
  • Diane asks Lautenberg what congress expects in return … discusses inconvience of air trave.. obviously has never been on a long-distance train.
  • Congressmen have to be so polite. This administration will not willingly provide health care for poor kids, so transportation is out of the question.
  • Lautenberg tries to explain to the chromiglically gifted Rehm that no passenger service on earth is “self-supporting” .. it is a PUBLIC SERVICE. Good manners prevail.
  • The comparison of long distance train subsidies to “essential air service” is a poor argument. The Amtrak long distance system is inherently inefficient becuase of too little equipment and too few trains.
  • Diane just woke up and asked about HSR. Lautenberg tip-tied around it. After all, when Americans go faster than79 mph, their fillings fall out.
  • And Lautenberg is one of our best guys. He is good, but not excellent.
  • Capon is on now. Fine commentary on the freight railroads.
  • Some idiot congressman spouting off about food service. Losing $80 million a year. Demeans dining car crews, and here comes the SUNSET! Watch out! Is he lying? Only when the lips move.
  • Starvation diet? Do food service people make $55k? Capon gives an excellent answer on labor costs.
  • Reporter connects increased ridership to 9/11.
  • Thanks, Mr. Conservative, yeah, Amtrak ridership is up but what does that prove? We’re Republicans and we hate ordinary people.
  • Back on dining cars. Why do passengers expect to eat anyway?
  • Capon addresses dining cars. Portland, Me. train has private operator. NC has private maintenance of its’ train.
  • First caller is one of ours. Would have never made it on a commercial talk show. Diane lets former Oklahoma goof-ball congressman direct unwary listeners to Heritage’s lying web site.
  • Oklahoma nutcase says that highways are not subsidized. Nada. Makes perfect sense to me.
  • Caller from Buloxi, Mississippi. This guy is a real windbag. Capon gives the right answer. Oklahoma nut recites the perfectly anti-Sunset argument. By the way, Mr. Conservative genius, the solution is to extend service back to Orlando and run it daily.
  • Wayne Allard, congressman from Colorado, is on the line. Totally idiotic argument about how Amtrak should pay its’ own way – just like highways and airports. (Sorry, Mr. Oklahoma Wizard)
  • Allerd is griping about Amtrak tickets being too high. This guy wants it both ways. Goota’; pay your own way, and don’t charge for the product. Brilliant. Diane must have a crush on him. (Just joking.)
  • Email complains about Amtrak’s typically poor schedules. Listener has a point. Capon is very cool. Points to Midwest High Speed Rail Association.
  • More lies form Istook. Never let facts get in the way of prejudice. Istook completely misconstrues the MWHSRA.
  • It is interesting how the very people who cripple the system complain that the stations are not just perfect.
  • Caller from Florida. Frequent Amtrak traveler. Diane cuts him off. May be pressed for time. The man asked about freight interference. Capon gives good but vague answer.
  • Guy from Chicago complains about the cost of a family traveling on Amtrak. Capon responds about the cost of gas and increased cost of driving.
  • Another caller about baby boomers. Rather positive. One of the conservative guests dreams up more “evidence.” Rather sad.
  • Email from lady with Parkinson’s. What can anybody say to that? Yes, Amtrak is better for many disabled folks. Of course, Istook disagrees. This guy should go on Saturday Night Live.
  • Diane does a nice job of wrapping up. Handling so many guests and callers is a handful.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

German privitization iced

 Germans walked up to the edge, looked over, and stepped back Spiegel International Online has an extensive report.

German Train Sell-Off Derailed in the Nick of Time

Germany’s railway privatization has been shelved indefinitely following a decision by the Social Democratic Party to demand fundamental changes to the planned sale. Media commentators say the plan in its current form wouldn’t have boosted competition anyway.

A high-speed ICE train, the pride of the German rail network, at Munich station.


Getty Images

A high-speed ICE train, the pride of the German rail network, at Munich station.

The wheels of change turn slowly in Germany. The country has been planning to privatize (more…) its railway for the past 15 years and seemed tantalizingly close to going ahead with it next year.But the plan appears to have been derailed by the center-left Social Democrats who voted at a party conference last weekend to demand fundamental changes to the privatization — changes Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have already rejected.

Critics will say the dispute shows once again how bad Germany is at modernizing itself. Supporters of the country’s elaborate system of checks and balances say it proves that democracy works – many Germans were getting increasingly worried that a privatized rail network would hike fares and shut down unprofitable routes. And the plan in its current form had been criticized as being over-complex, contradictory and too focused on funding the railway’s global expansion rather than boosting competition and efficiency on German tracks.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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October 2007