Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Obama disappoints

Here is an item in Politico. It is the first concrete expression of the new administration’s plans for infrastructure.

Sadly, it looks like business as usual on the transportation side.

It is our position that America needs a balanced system of transport, and that places an importance on highways. The neglect in this area is undoubted.

Nonetheless, the omission of rail passenger service is a bad omen.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

7 Responses

  1. Ellis Simon says:

    Pat –
    The Midwest High-Speed Rail Association has started an initiative to urge HSR supporters to ask their representatives to include more money for HSR in the infrastructure initiative. I posted an item about it today on RidingMyTrain:

    Urge your readers to take action.

  2. Allan says:

    Wow, he disappoints some of his followers so soon. Hang in there, he still might brighten your day. Just because he didn’t mention here doesn’t mean he isn’t going to fork over the money at some point in the future.

    Just remember, all the sows are fighting to get into the feeding trough of the “stimulus” package.

  3. The NYT has something that he will also include electrical, rail, transit, and sewer systems in the stimulus package as well. That is of course yet to be seen but I voted for change.. not the same ole method of cars. We need more rail in our nation…

    After combing over history of the United States, we are actually slower than we were between 1940 and 1970. Trains were known to run 100mph (Santa Fe Super Chief comes to great mind) and easily had 20+ hours over the current service right now.

    We have done nothing more than continue to downgrade our speeds as infrastructure ages. We should be right there with Europe, China, and Australia whom all have vast rail networks, not just the East coast that has a “barely” 150mph corridor. Australia is one of the few countries that has high speed narrow gauge lines.

    We should have at least 2 coast to coast high speed lines for freight and passenger trains. It should not take over 2 days to get from coast to coast by rail. We have a lot of very flat terrain that should make up time. We went from having over 200 different passenger routes at one point and we are now down to less than 50, excluding commuter rail operations. The end of the streetcar era, the end of freight railroads no longer wanting to operate passenger trains… there has been so much that could have been done and should be done.

    The FRA needs to be restructured and revamped. We can not continue building heavy passenger trains and end up with products like the Acela and the inevitable cracking of the bolster pins and frame cracking due to the excessive weight required by the FRA. If we had the safety systems in place, accidents like Chatsworth would have never happened. Accidents the head-on collision in Kismet, California, Gunter, Tx

    It is a crying shame that we are at this point and still discussing basic safety measures because it is “expensive” I guess it takes an accident such as Chatsworth to get any movement here. Blood and mass death is normally what it takes to get any movement when it comes to safety in this Nation. A sad reality.

  4. Robert says:

    I must admit that I am similarly disappointed. During the campaign, there was very little discussion of mass transit. On the President-Elect’s website, mass transit is relegated to a one paragraph call-out at, where his office offers only a glib platitude to mass transit and livable community advocates, promising to re-evaluate ensuring that livable communities are considered with no specifics at all.

    “Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.”

    Meanwhile, on the energy page (, there is nothing but specifics on what the President Elect will do to make driving cheaper. Some bright spots for those who will ignore the coming transportation-motivated energy crunch:

    — Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation.
    — Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices.
    — Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
    — Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.

    The reality is that while gas retails for an average of $1.73 in the United States, the President Elect will not be able to push for real solutions to America’s reliance on driving.

  5. Michael Lowenthal says:

    At this time in our country, a high speed rail system would revitalize and bring this country to together much as NASA did during the 1960s.
    It would make more sense then spending all the money on an interstate highway system which is becoming less and less used.

    What’s more, is that much of the automotive industry that is being wasted away, can be retooled easily enough to provide engines and train cars.

  6. Allan says:

    Michael, I really doubt that any HSR would “bring this country to together much as NASA did during the 1960s.”

    Going to the moon was a demonstration of technological supremacy and effort. We’ll have to buy the HSR or Maglev technology from overseas.

  7. Michael Lowenthal/Architecture Grad Student/University of Texas at Arlington says:

    Allan, I am sure to some degree it is not as big a deal as going to the moon. However, when you look at our standstill technology (and I apologize for my lack of technical knowledge concerning HSR or Maglev), that many of us would be proud to see a system competitive to that of any overseas systems.

    We have an ailing automotive industry and it seems the answer is so simple. Jobs lost and factories shut down could be converted or retooled for the purpose of a new growing industry that in some cases would change the way we look at travel within the country in a way we could again be proud.

    I further see a host of different employment coming out of this. Jobs from infrastructure urban and other rebuilding, along with many other aspects of employment of running the systems. In fact, probably more than having both the automotive and finance can reproduce after squeezing our tax dollars from us without a glimpse of remorse.

    Where do I sign the petition?

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December 2008


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