It was fascinating to hear Louisiana's Governor last night deride high speed rail. "A train from Disneyland to Las Vegas." Does he think high speed rail to major tourist destinations is a bad idea? Or does he simply want to wait until private capital builds the lines? Fat chance there.
Would not a robust train service have gotten more people safely out of New Orleans before Katrina? Or was the Governor simply focused on how much money Louisiana makes on oil shipments and offshore drilling? He would never make fun of plans to build more airports. When did trains become politically incorrect among certain factions in America? Trains helped make this huge country possible. And to recall ancient history, most of the major train lines were built with heavy government subsidies and support in the 19th Century. Despite the Social Darwinism that was so popular then and still seems to make the Louisiana governor smile.
The Governor will be pleased to note that nothing will be built for this first $8 billion, it will largely go to planning and design. Though California already has 9-billion in bond money for rail and may use a little of the fed cash to supplement that ambitious hope for high speed rail. BTW, Gov, those commies in California actually voted for that bond issue.
HIGH SPEED FACTS
France, Germany, Japan and China all have major investments in high speed rail transit. Here's a gallery showing China's new trains that can go over 150MPH. In France you're advised to make reservations because their TGV (fast trains) are so heavily used. From personal experience I can say the fast trains in France and Japan are a great way to travel.
The highest speed train in America is the Acela from New York to Washington and it averages 86 MPH, about half what a French TGV does every day.
In taking Eurostar from London to Paris you travel 2.5 hours. That's less time that it would take to go to either airport, hassle security, check bags, and wait. Not to mention just getting to Heathrow or Charles DeGaulle Airports in the first place. Perhaps the Governor should note that most Americans say they would like to have trains as an alternative to driving or airplanes.
TOO BIG FOR TRAINS
One argument against high speed American trains: we're too big and too much open space. Japan and France are just small, compact countries. Hello, China doesn't seem to be too big. But, of course, there the government does what it pleases and corporations just feed at the public trough. And China has no huge oil industry lobbying against trains.
Sure, we don't need high speed rail from Missoula to Taos. But there are obvious corridors that could and should have high speed service: Boston-New York-Washington, Chicago-Minneapolis, Chicago-Milwaukee, Dallas-Houston-Austin triangle, yes even LA-Vegas, LA-SF, Seattle-Portland, San Diego-LA, Miami-Tampa, Buffalo-NYC, Harrisburgh-Philly. Let's start with a few of those.
Even where trains now move at America's accepted snail's pace, ridership on busy corridors is up. Like Portland to Seattle. SOME REACTION TO SOME OF THE TALKBACKS. RAIL MORE CONTROVERSIAL THAN NUCLEAR?[poll id="95"]