Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Gannett: U.S. sets sights on high-speed rail

The Detroit Free Press is running an excellent item on passenger tail developments. It is factual and even=handed. That is why I would like to pick a few nits with the editors.

The story correctly draws the distinction between true European HSR and the kind of improvements proposed by the Midwest High Speed Rail Associaiton.

Peter Gertler, a rail expert with HNTB Corp., a consulting firm, said a solid system of so-called incremental high-speed rail — service of 110-125 m.p.h. — could flourish in the United States under the existing framework.

For a truly high-speed network in which trains go 150 m.p.h. or faster, the United States would have to follow the European and Asian models and buy or build track and make it off-limits to freight trains or slower-speed passenger service, Gertler said.

There are two problems with the story. First, the opening line makes an misinformed reference to “train fans.” This suggests that advocates for modern ground transportation are, at minamum hobbyists, and at worst – well, let’s not go there. It would be better to find a less iflatory expression.

The second item is not the reporter’s fault. Reporters do nt write headlines and this one suggests something that is nowhere in the body of the story. Amtrak is not the sole determining body on how HSR funds will be spent. I may be wrong, but I am wondering if Amtrak has a role at all. The headline suggests, to the benefit of those who spread deliberate misinformation, that a federal agency has some sort of unregulated blank check. Again, the story gives a better report of the actual situation.

Altogether, a fine job.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

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March 2009


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