Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Midwest opinions

Stephen Dick writes for the paper in Anderson, Indiana. His lengthy column makes a world of common sense in an area where fast conventional trains would provide essential public service.

The only passenger train service now in America is the federally funded Amtrak, and the Bush administration continues to slash its funding. In 2006, Amtrak received $1.3 billion, the same as it received 25 years ago, according to Parade. In 2007, funds decreased to $800 million. Of course, billions are pumped into road maintenance, and even the airlines received $14 billion in federal funds in 2006.

The rest of the world is light years ahead of the U.S. in train travel. European, Asian and Latin American countries are also less conservative. They know that government can improve lives, something the U.S. has rejected at its peril.

Last April, a train in France, the V150, set a world speed record for rail at 357 mph. Alstom, the manufacturer of the train, has received a contract to set up a system in Argentina. Japan also has high-speed rail service, the Hitachi; ditto Siemans in Germany. England has been slow to catch on, but the Brits recently refurbished a train station at St. Pancras, built in Victorian days, for a high-speed line that will connect London to Paris in two hours.

Rail travel makes sense. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. There are drawbacks concerning convenience, but since when did Americans have to have everything so convenient for them? Yeah, don’t answer that.

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Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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