I’ll vote for anyone who’ll get U.S. passenger railways on track

I will vote for anyone who’ll get our country’s passenger railway system on track.

I am exaggerating only slightly.

However, it’s no exaggeration to say that I am convinced that a modern, national railway system would be our country’s salvation; the solution for our current financial disaster. Any candidate of any party who could guarantee its construction would seriously turn my head.

A high-speed passenger railway system seems like such an obviously good idea for the United States on so many levels for so many reasons that I just don’t understand what there is to debate.  It’s like debating whether electricity can or cannot power a lightbulb.

What’s not to love about a modern passenger train system?

My love affair with trains goes back to that July day so long ago when my mother, three younger sisters and I rode a train from Canada to Redding. I now marvel at how my mother managed to get herself, four daughters – ages 5, 5, 4 and 2 – and all our stuff off the train. Well, almost all our stuff. In the rush, I accidentally left behind my miniature china tea set, a gift from my mother for the trip. I can practically see it sitting on the window ledge where I left it on our sleeper car. I’m pretty much over it. Almost.

As an adult, the few times I’ve traveled to Europe I’ve fallen in love with passenger trains all over again. I love the passing scenery. I love not having to fight traffic. I love the little carts with coffee and snacks. I love the dining cars. I love being able to read or talk or doze on a train. I love the civility of train travel. I love the sway and sound of trains. I just love everything about them.

If you’re lucky enough to have traveled to other developed countries, you know what I’m talking about.  And aside from all the things I just mentioned that I adore about trains, it’s noteworthy that modern passenger rail transportation is faster, cleaner, more efficient, and, with few rare exceptions, safer than vehicular travel.

So what’s the hold up? Why can’t we have high-speed rail transportation in the United States? Why have other developed countries embraced high-speed rail, but the U.S. has not? Why can’t we have high-speed rail travel throughout the entire U.S., and not just in the urban areas, like Portland or New York?

These are not rhetorical questions.

Our country is so backward when it comes to high-speed rail that it boggles my mind.  More frequently lately I hear the updates and debates about a U.S. rail system, and things aren’t looking very promising. I find myself screaming at the radio when such lame objections are raised as:  1. Ridership is low, and 2. Americans don’t use the existing rail systems.  Ergo, Americans must not want high-speed rail, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Of course we haven’t embraced the existing U.S. rail systems. Why would we? They suck! Current U.S. passenger rail systems are expensive, unreliable and have too few routes to make travel upon them workable or affordable. Case in point, here in Redding our sole passenger train blows through here in the wee hours of the morning … but it could be hours late … at an aging, locked station that doubles as a homeless hangout.

Give us a passenger railway system with dependable schedules, myriad route options and decent fares and you’d find trains packed with passengers, and automobiles parked in garages, covered in cobwebs.

Why can’t our country’s leaders see this? Surely they’ve traveled to developed nations and ridden trains.

Can’t they see how high-speed rail would boost the economy by providing jobs related to railways’ construction, maintenance and staffing? Don’t they realize that unemployment would drop when people used high-speed rail to travel outside their rural bergs for work, and return them home in time for dinner? Haven’t they figured out how high-speed rail could create employment match-making solutions all over the county?

Take Shasta County, for example, and our double-digit unemployment rate. If our citizens had access to a modern railway system, workers could hop on a train and ride to work in nearby cities with more job opportunities. Likewise, trains could bring workers here from other places, too, to fill the demand of companies that lack a qualified workforce. Plus, with access to that more qualified workforce, companies would have one less  excuse to not set up shop here.

A modern passenger railway system would mean we’d have less reliance on cars, which would mean less reliance upon oil, which would mean a happier planet, too. (Maybe fewer wars, too.)

A modern passenger railway system would lure aging drivers (read: baby boomers) off freeways and highways, which would be safer and less stressful for everyone.

Our country’s commitment to a state-of-the-art passenger railway system would mean jobs galore at a time when so many people are barely hanging on financially, especially in places like the north state, where it feels more like a depression than a recession. Recovery? What recovery? Listen to how the word recovery sounds as it echos inside the scores of empty buildings that held former businesses. Say the word recovery in places like the Cypress Square Shopping Center in Redding, where it seems that more than half the spaces are vacant. One day a business is there, the next day it’s not; sometimes gone without so much as a note or forwarding address stuck to the door.

But wait, there’s more. A modern passenger railway system wouldn’t just directly help U.S. citizens, but it would be good for foreign visitors, enticed by the convenience and accessibility of high-speed rail to venture to more places in this great land – places beyond our more sophisticated train-savvy cities.

Indulge me as I veer off track slightly to a side rant for a moment, but bear with me. It’s related.  Italy enjoys a fair amount of success with agritourism, where tourists (many Americans, I might add) ride trains that deposit them in beautiful regions, oh, like Tuscany, where tourists then rent tiny cars for scenic drives on rural roads to reach farms and cheese-makers and olive-oil producers and vineyards and the like, sometimes actually staying at those locations, and working.  Oh, the wonder. How quaint.

Helllloooo. Our north state is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, too. Consequently, we are also blessed with cheese-makers and wine-makers and vineyards and organic farmers and grass-fed beef ranchers (howdy, Prather Ranch) and apiaries and orchards. The north state could absolutely be an agritourism destination, too, if only foreign visitors could reach us without having to burn rubber up and down I-5 at distances that would equal half-a-dozen European cities.

Sure, we Americans with our dysfunctional car addictions are accustomed to wasting precious gasoline to drive from county to county and state to state to reach our destinations. Why? Because we had to – have to. But that’s outside the comfort zone of travelers from more well-developed countries where high-speed rail transportation is as common as say, universal health care (sorry, I couldn’t help it).

More foreign visitors would mean more money pumped into more communities throughout the U.S., not just the urban, popular cities that already enjoy successful rail transportation.

Granted, I am rather train-biased. So consider that the non-partisan American Public Transportation Association, an organization that advocates for public transit improvement,  estimates that for every dollar invested in public transportation, four additional dollars are generated in economic returns. Plus, the APTA recently reported that in major urban areas that have railway transportation, the average passengers saves nearly $10,000 a year by using public transportation and ditching cars.

President Obama has tried to make railway transportation a priority, but he didn’t have much support earlier this year when he called for a six-year high-speed rail plan that would begin with $8 billion, and eventually reach $53-billion. He and his administration believe that a high-speed rail plan would create jobs and boost American competitiveness in the long run. I agree.

Yes, high-speed rail would be expensive, but it won’t cost less later. (Maybe we could pretend we need to fund a war, but build a railway system with the money instead.)

Why oh why oh why is a high-speed passenger railway such a hard sell? Why can’t all our leaders – no matter their parties – see that when it comes to railway transportation, the United States is limping along like a second-rate, Third World country? Come on, it’s embarrassing.

Can you imagine how cool it would be to board a train in Redding and be in San Francisco or Sacramento or Portland for the day? Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have easier, faster access to loved ones who live in far-flung places?

Our country’s politicians and leaders claim they want to boost the economy and help millions of Americans who’ve lost jobs, homes, retirements, health care and hope. Really? Here’s a suggestion: Forget small-potato stimulus programs, mini-tax breaks and fleeting rebates that have virtually zero tangible financial benefit (at last report, something like a pathetic 1 percent). Those things, though perhaps well-intentioned, haven’t sent so much as a ripple of relief to middle America’s tidal wave of money troubles.

I’m tired of feeling jealous of countries that have high-speed rail. I’m sick of wishing for something that isn’t that out of the question (we can put a man on the moon…).

If I’m going to wish and hope and imagine, I want to wish and hope and imagine a forward-thinking presidential candidate with the brains, bravery and balls to not just stand up and declare a commitment to passenger rail transportation, but someone willing to reach across the aisle and move heaven and dirt to make it happen.

Such a project would set our country on a competitive track toward a 21st-century transportation system. Its creation would produce an unprecedented national works feat that could turn this country around financially at a time when we need it most.

Our country is in dire need. We need something fantastically epic, something drastic, a King-Kong lifesaver of a plan to help our economy. We need something we don’t already have. We need to do something we haven’t already done. The solution is a massive undertaking: the construction of a nationwide, modern high-speed rail system.

It’s a simple train of thought, but so wonderfully loaded with the most spectacular of possibilities: A made-in-America – just for America – high-speed railway project.

And if we could successfully pull it off, the sheer magnitude of it would make The New Deal look like no big deal.

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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34 Responses

  1. Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

    Doni,

    Couldn't agree more with anything you've written. Remember who bought the Little Red Car system in Los Angeles? Who bought the rights of way? Who dismantled the working system so the present non working highway system would be built? Same forces are at work today: auto companies and oil.

    Reason the republic is so paralyzed, we get the government we deserve, is because the people do not agree on almost any single issue in enough numbers to get action. Look at the agenda for change which was supposed to come four years ago: same economy, same war, same debt, same entitlements, same price supports, same whatever. No one is particularly upset.

    Most adults have never been on a passenger train, anywhere. It's too foreign for mass support. Even your cited experience is short of reality. Amtrak has a working bus/rain system which has Redding schedules during day time and is reasonably priced. Almost no one uses it.

    Love affair with the automobile will be very hard to end despite its many failures: cost, danger, ruin of our cities, waste of energy, slowness, loss of time which could be spent more enjoyably and so forth. Sheep don't think for themselves. Today's politicians are not looking for anything except continuing in office. It's not pretty!

    • Avatar Auld Sodger says:

      Raldall, good observations. However, not sure what you mean by "Almost no one uses it?" Perhaps you mean just Redding because ov erall the Amtrak System has been setting ridership each year for the past decade Biggest problem with ridership is lack of capacity, frequencies and full route coverage. Recent experience has shown (eg, Portland, OR-Seattle, Raleigh-Charlotte, Lynchburg-Washington, Boston-Portland, ME) that if you add convenient frequencies which run on time and are auto competitive passenger demand will respond.

      Don't know if the news is getting to the west coast yet but perhaps the biggest (recent) experiment in passenger rail yet (no, not California HSR) is about to take off in Florida — a private, for profit service between Miami and Orlando. Florida East Coast Railway: Passenger train service between …

      • Avatar PearlY says:

        "if you add convenient frequencies which run on time and are auto competitive passenger demand will respond."

        As the Spartans said to Philip of Macedon: "If."

  2. Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

    Ahhh, dreams: high-speed rail, national health care, every single one of our troops home to defend our borders rather than being cannon fodder in countries that don't want or need us, a flat tax or national sales tax, elected officials who actually represent their constituents, bureaus like MediCare headed by honest people rather than crooks, sending foreign criminals to their home countries rather than housing them in our prisons, ending the space program . . . Those and a few more projects would solve this miasma of a depression the US is in.

  3. Avatar Jim Loomis says:

    Yes! You are absolutely right! Unfortunately, Americans are being hornswoggled by a massive misinformation campaign directed against both Amtrak in general and California’s high-speed rail project in particular.

    A lot of the opposition comes from uninformed individuals whose argument is pretty much limited to ranting that the rail is a “boondoggle” because there is a government subsidy involved. The fact is, of course, that ALL public transprtation is subsidized, from the airlines to highways to metropolitan transit systems to bike lanes and sidewalks.

    But there is another, more organized anti-rail effort being waged that's keeping all those boondogglers baying in full throat. It's coming from the Reason Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and other so-called “think tanks”, all of which advocate an ultra-conservative and/or Libertarian philosophy.

    It’s important to realize that much of the funding for these “foundations” comes from oil companies, several of the major airlines, the highway lobby and, of course, from the infamous multi-billion dollar ultra-conservative Koch Family Foundation.

    The special interests are trying to kill both Amtrak's long-distance trains and California's high-speed rail project and they are doing so for both selfish and ideological reasons. Further, and to their great discredit, they are doing it with misinformation and deception. If they succeed, Americans will pay the price, literally and figuratively, for generations to come.

  4. Avatar Hollis Pickett says:

    Why make the effort do something sensible or beneficial when you're getting paid so much to do nothing….and when so few have the gumption to stand up and say "No more!".

  5. Avatar Barbara Grosch says:

    Doni,

    I couldn't agree more…..love the trains and would love to buzz down to Santa Barbara to see my grandchildren without leaving in the middle of the night (or later). Thanks for stating the possibilities so well.

    bg

  6. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Well, my love affair with trains is well documented so my agreement with your well-stated and well researched and well argued article FOR high speed rail is pretty much a forgone conclusion.

    So, Doni, when are you running for office? I'll vote for you, I'll even offer to be your campaign manager.

  7. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    Yes, yes, yes. My husband and I have so often talked about how far behind this country is in transportation compared to the rest of the developed world. How great it would be to not have to drive to every point of interest or importance and instead hop on a train, just as we do in Europe. This country still relies almost entirely on cars – thanks to the lobbying of the oil industry and the Koch Brothers. Well, someday those oil reserves will dry up and the US will be left behind in the dust.

    To say it's too expensive – nonsense. It's too expensive to wait. People would be put to work immediately to build it, and then continue to work to maintain and run it after completion. This needs to become a reality.

  8. I agree agree agree!!!! And not just a high speed rail system from the Bay Area to L.A. If I could take the train from Redding to Portland and get there quicker than it takes to drive, I'd do it. Often. At this point, a one-way trip for one person costs about the same as the gas it would take to get there, but instead of shortening the trip it's 5 1/2 hours LONGER. That's insane. I'd like to see rail systems like Europe, where you can put your car on the train, that way you can go by rail until you can't go any further and then get in your car and go. The best of both worlds.

  9. Avatar Steve Fischer says:

    "Can you imagine how cool it would be to board a train in Redding and be in San Francisco or Sacramento or Portland for the day?"

    My answer is yes. But it will take gutsy government and/or a whole new industry (current rail companies are hopelessly two centuries out of date).

    Having taken a big vacation recently, however, it would also be nice if we could take a plane from Redding at a reasonable price to any one of several reasonable choices, too.

    Heck, it would be nice if we could catch a bus from somewhere near our house sometime more often than once every how-many hours and get home in less than all day.

    Keep dreaming, but I don't think we'll see it anytime soon.

  10. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I, too, agree with all that you said, Doni; also Randall hit the nail on the head. We love trains. Took a trip very recently to Portland. Was a nice trip, although it was mostly to see an eye specialist. My husband has even tried to build a mini train set-up in the yard, but it is now at a standstill; I think we need help. Anyway, lets get those trains rolling!Our disfunctional government probably won't do anything about it, however. I can remember riding the train to San Francisco (many years ago) when I working there. Wouldn't you know, they took the trains off and replaced them with "smelly" old, crowded buses.

  11. Avatar lee riggs says:

    I used to take the train to Redding and back to the Bay Area often. My biggest problem was the erratic departure from Redding which was usually due to the policy of giving freight trains priortity. I felt the prices were reasonable. Have you checked out the costs of flying out of Redding to the Bay Area? or that ship of horrors Greyhound? But I agree lets improve train service and routes. The best trip I ever took in my life was across the US was by train.

  12. Avatar Leonhard Ott says:

    Awe yes it is nice to dream. I too like trains but the reality is most people would take their cars. When I was younger I lived and worked it Switzerland. I spent 2 years taking the bus and train to work and back. I would get up early walk a mile and a half across town to the train station wait for the train. Take the train into Luzern get off, head for the bus station wait for my bus, take the bus that got as close as possible to my work, then walk the last 1/2 mile to our shop. I worked in construction and the work day was 11 hours when the day was over I would do the return trip. One way took two hours, longer when I fell asleep on the train, on the way home. After 2 years I was finally able to buy my first car (yeeeehhh) it took me 25 minutes for one direction after that. Now that was in a country where the trains and buses ran on time, 99% of the time. Trains sure sound nice but, I doubt very many people will give up the freedom of their cars to spend even more time commuting and with our track record here in the States. Better to concentrate on local bus systems and better highways and fuel efficient cars.

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Doni isn't talking about commuter trains to get to work; she's talking about an efficient system of intercity/interstate trains to get from here to Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, etc.

      I disagree that people won't give up their cars. Yes, it would be unfamiliar territory for many (maybe most) Americans, and some will never let go of the steering wheel. But once they've experienced the freedom of leaving the car at home, I believe they'll embrace high-speed rail instead of the hours of tedium and expense spent driving Interstate 5.

      • Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

        I agree . . . witness the use of BART in the Bay Area. It is handy, reliable, frequent, and goes where you need to go. It is heavily used by commuters. I use it any time I need to go to the city. Parking at the stations is free. I have a hard time understanding why anyone commutes to the city by car any more.

        • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

          Well, it's not free at every station for more than a day – we parked for two weeks at El Cerrito Del Norte and it was $5/day. But compare that to parking at SFO, or anywhere in SF! It's a great deal.

  13. Avatar Muscle Russell says:

    Romantic note. However, The Japanese Bullet Train has never been finished since 1964. Japan Railways went bankrupt several times trying to finish it. Every crossing must be seperated from the line. And rarely does it go 200 MPH for any length of time. Too much politics involved.

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Actually, Japan has a widespread network of high-speed trains that operate efficiently and are very widely used. The technology behind the Japanese system is being exported to other countries.

      The story behind the development and the future of such trains is far more complex, and far more positive, than stated here.

  14. Avatar Saras says:

    "I'd like to see rail systems like Europe, where you can put your car on the train, that way you can go by rail until you can't go any further and then get in your car and go. The best of both worlds." Heck, I'd like to just be able to take my bike on the train to get to Portland, but we can't do that here in Redding – no checked luggage at our station and no bike racks on that route. In order to take your bike on the train in Redding you must get yourself to Sacramento, then box up your bike to travel north. I'm off to write Amtrak a letter…

    Thanks for the informative article, Doni.

  15. Avatar Al Knowing says:

    I love the romanticism of a train ride to anywhere. I have taken a few train rides and the most memorable ones are the ones where you do not have a schedule to meet.

    I think Americans are not "socialistic" enough to embrace trains. We had them and now we have our personal form of transportation, the automobile. Blame big business sabotage, but the real reason we have few HSR systems is because we don't want them. We get coerced into thinking we have to have one, pass a bill that tests the profitability, get lukewarm results and push for it anyway. It's been politicized. The Europeans and the Japanese as well as Asians and many other parts of the industrially lagging places of the world adore them because they have been in place and used for decades if not longer. Brainwashed? Maybe, but the bottom line is now is too late, cost wise, and we the people are too independent to give up "doing our own thing in our own time." Add the government into the mix, both state and federal, and you end up with a cost over run, profitability matrix favorable, expensive way to do what we used to do without the added headaches, not to mention more union problems! Look at the local airline fiasco's we have experienced here in Redding. Same game new technology, same outcome. Take government out of the picture and I might, maybe, give it a second thought. Now if you want to talk about the Shasta Dinner Train being resurrected I am in, for sure.

  16. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    Thanx, Doni. We surely do need to upgrade our rail system to handle the bulk of public transportation. You should follow up with the status of Gov. Brown's efforts in CA. One difference between the US and Europe that will need to be dealt with is that we have immense areas of sparsely-populated land that do not exist in Europe, except Russia. We may need trains designed to carry small autos to central locations, if we are to serve the vast spaces in the middle of the country.

  17. Avatar Sue says:

    I just have to add to this, albeit a day or two late. I love, love, love the idea of high speed rail. What a boon just building it would be to our economy. A few years ago we were in France and rode the TGV from Paris to Toulouse. The trip took a relaxing 5 hours zooming along smoothly at… I don't know how fast. The only problem was you couldn't enjoy the scenery because it whooshed by in a blur.

    Another thing that blew me away was supermarket check out counters designed so that the checker was seated…Imagine. They just slid the items over the counter and into well that held the grocery bag.

    We still have a lot to learn from " Old Europe".

  18. Avatar Laurel says:

    All for it, Doni. It would be great, like world peace and ending hunger and homelessness. I've read many good points here, and I really have nothing new to add. However, if chiming in helps…ding ding.

    As great as it is, a major problem with train travel is no matter where you're going, not only in Redding, the train arrives and departs any given station in any given city on any given day at 4 or 5 am. The only way you get out at a half decent hour is in the likely event that it will be hours late. How is it that no train has ever been scheduled to arrive or depart during waking hours? Beyond that, half or more of the trip is often by bus, where trains do not serve. There's no better way to take the romance out of rail travel than to transfer you onto a crowded, smelly bus. And many times, the cost of a train ticket has been quite a bit MORE than the cost to fly. Is it any wonder why people choose to fly somewhere in two hours it would currently take up to two days to get to by train?

    I appreciate the sentiment, Doni, and I totally agree with you. Like you said, the entire train system would need to be overhauled, and unfortunately I just don't see it happening.

    ~L

    • Avatar Mclisa says:

      The reason explained to me for the horrible hours made sense, I guess. There is only one train going each direction here between Seattle and L.A. Daily and they want to schedule them so they go through the pretty landscape during the day. Ours is considered less than pretty 🙂 Also, the delays are due to their sharing the tracks with Union Pacific and UP trains having priority. I have: gotten off the train 8 hours late, driven to Oakland because the booking agent told me I couldn't board in San Jose, watched my luggage sit at the station as my train leaves, ridden the buses and it still beats driving!

      I dream of the day I can take high speed rail to L.A. When they start up the first phase in the Central Valley, I will ride it back and forth until they kick me off!

  19. Avatar Magnolia Neighborhoo says:

    -I'm a train cheerleader! I've been on high-speed rail in France, and trains in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, & our Amtrak across the country through Chicago's great train station, and to Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, etc. I love meeting people on the train, watching the scenery & dining!

    -Yes, Americans must broaden their perspective on the idea of a workable train transportation system & demand it. Private industry might need to "pave" the way. What happened to the high-speed privately funded rail dream from L.A. to Las Vegas?

    -Even Turkey has a better train system than U.S.A! And China embraces high-speed train technology in a country with vast distances! Look at the train systems of India, Thailand, Laos, & Vietnam! See what government corruption did to the South American train transportation network.

    -Track where some of the old U.S.A. steam locomotives ended up: they're still working on foreign train transportation systems!

    Take the time to ride the train & support this mode of transportation!

    And look at the ridership numbers of Japan's train system!

  20. Avatar Mclisa says:

    I also want to give a shout out to our commuter planes. I forget who goes where, but the Portland run is scenic, and the SFO run is awesome. It cuts across near Berryessa, out over the ocean, diagonally across the city, then down the peninsula to get into the pattern. Mine went all the way down to Moffett. It costs more than driving (actually not so much in a package), but you get a sightseeing trip, cheaper and easier parking at Redding, and a shorter, more humane security line.

  21. Avatar PearlY says:

    I love trains, and have traveled on them in at least a dozen countries, but when you ask why we don't have the well-developed train systems of other developed countries or the commitment to trains of developing countries like China, the answer is pretty straightforward.

    Population density per square kilometer:

    Japan: 337

    China: 140

    European Union: 112

    U.S.: 32 (almost half of which is East of the Mississippi River) If you exclude Alaska & Hawaii, you can bring the density up to 40.

    In other words, it would cost several times more per person to serve Americans with train systems than in those other countries, all other things being equal. And they are not, because aside from the Eastern Seaboard, most American cities developed around car usage, while most European cities developed around trains. So even in our urban areas (at least outside the Eastern Seaboard), density is far less concentrated.

    Population density of urban areas in Europe range from around 3400/square km in Berlin to 5700/square km in Madrid. Our most populous cities are L.A., at 2400, New York at 1800 and downward to DFW or Houston at around 1100. So feeder lines are going to be much less expensive in Berlin or Madrid than in LA or Dallas, especially since the rights-of-way and related infrastructure has been in place in those places since BEFORE the city grew out around them and were built in the days when labor was cheap, safety and environmental standards non-existent.

    As much as I love trains, the finances just don't make sense to me.

  22. Avatar Gary Tull says:

    Vote expected on CA high-speed rail:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/06/us-usa-

  23. Avatar Dan Mabry says:

    Great article. I commuted on the trains in NYC, and in San Francisco and loved it. Took the train cross country and had a great time. It is a shame but it seems we had better public rail transportation 50 years ago. I would use Amtrack in Redding, but the schedule stinks.

    I do wonder if the money earmarked for high speed rail was spent on subsizing current technology (Amtrack & Commuter Flights) if we would have almost as good a system immediately.

  24. Tom O'Mara Tom O'Mara says:

    Doni,

    You make so many good points, it's hard to count them all! Trains are definitely the way to go.