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(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)

"Forget the space race. The new arms race is over high-speed trains. China is in negotiations to build a high-speed rail network to India and Europe that would make a trip from London to Beijing last just two days".
Read more: http://www.smartplanet.com/...
The network would begin in London and extend to India, Pakistan and Beijing. It could eventually carry passengers from on to Singapore, a trip that would last three days, according to project consultant Wang Mengshu, as reported in the Telegraph (UK). A second line would extend from Beijing northward, through Russia to Germany, linking with the European railway system.

Read more: http://www.smartplanet.com/...
 

Most Americans have no experience with hi-speed rail from a passengers perspective. Therefore this diary tries to give some background as to what your experience maybe on hi-speed rail.


(Photo on the left is the Belgium Thalys hi-speed train which offers a service from Koln, Germany to Paris, France in 3 hours.)

As an American expat living in the European Union I was recently able to travel in a German hi-speed rail train, clipping along at excess of over 300 kilometers an hour from Frankfurt to Cologne. It was a very smooth ride, much smoother than any airplane I've ever been on. It was also much quieter than any plane I've ever been on, and of course there were more bathrooms than any plane I'd ever been on. I kept my tray during my trip in the upright position, except when I was using my laptop, which I was able to plug in under my seat. Instead of being served that really tacky tasting airline food, I was able to go to the dining cart and pick out from a full menu of tasty dishes. During the ride I was able to use my cell phone as well as wireless internet, and of course there could be no luggage lost, because I was able to keep a hold of my luggage, not just a carry on. Then let me state the obvious there was no pre-flight check in, no pat downs, no scanners. When you buy your ticket, you don't even have to go to a ticket counter, you can buy it from a vending machine. If you miss your train it is never a problem, because there will be another train usually within the hour. Watching the German countryside whisk by at a speed of over 300 kilometers an hour was breathtaking, as well as beautiful. It beats looking out your window at clouds that's for sure.

Stewards came by with a cart at regular intervals filled with refreshments, for those who did not want to get up and stretch their legs and go for a bit of a walk. Oh by the way did I mention they had more toilets than any flight I've ever been on. Hmm oh yes, I guess I did. How about this, the bathrooms were larger than any airline toilet I've ever seen. The food was better than any airline food I've ever tried. I grant you there was no in flight movie, but with the breathtaking scenery going by of castles, rivers and charming countryside who has time to watch yet another cheesy Hollywood production. There were a lot of radio stations you could jack in to through your headset. I especially like the ones that play classical music. You could go with reserve seating for about 3 Euros (just under $5), or do the al La Carte thing and change seats if you felt like it. Try doing that on an airliner sitting next to someone that doesn't stop snoring!

(This is a picture of a French hi-speed rail train)

Well is there more, yes there is more. The seating was comfortable in first class as well as coach. I've traveled both. The seats reclined. They had footrests, and for any one who is traveling by air, the trains get this, stop right at the airports in multiple German cities to include Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich. Of course this scenario is repeated through the entirety of Europe in London, Paris and Rome to name but a few. Of course within the European Union there is no customs or border controls, so traveling is convenient and easy, as well as comfortable and convenient. It should also be said that main German railway stations as is the case throughout the European Union usually connect to subways and other local transportation networks directly.

German rail stations in major cities are spacious. There are a large number of restaurants, something for everyone's palate and budget ranging from Subways to McDonalds to Starbucks or original German restaurants, grocery stores, bookstores, newsstands, any shop you can find at an airport, you'll find three of those (smile) at a rail station and vicinity. For first class passengers there is always a first class lounge for waiting travelers in Germany. Unlike most of the airports, the train stations in Europe are usually centrally located, such as Kings Cross or Victoria station in London. It is convenient because believe it or not you can get from London to Paris by train quicker than you can by air now that the Channel tunnel is in operation. The train journey takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, when we take the 1 hour time zone difference between Paris and London into account.Here is a typical timetable for schedules.

(For anyone interested in experiencing up close and personal the golden age of steam powered European locomotives, here's a one minute YouTube video I made.)


This diary is about rekindling America's lost love affair with rail travel.

Now to be clear this is an action diary and not a rail travel guide through the European Union. This action diary asks you to please share this diary with your friends on social media and write to your member of Congress today and tell them to get on board with hi-speed rail. While much has been written about America's love affair with the automobile, with rising gasoline prices and long driving times, the American traveling public has also had a long time love affair with air travel. Now with America's airports and interstate highway system in a state of perpetual gridlock, especially at peak travel times, isn't hi-speed rail quick as air travel an idea whose time has come. Or do we perpetually want to invest in operating the only antiquated railway system of this size and scope of any major industrialized nation in the world, that operates at speeds that have been in existence since the 1950's. Therefore the word hi-speed rail for Americans has become science fiction instead of science and engineering fact. This is directly attributable to the fact that America's plutocracies economic interests in the automotive and airline industry have prevented the investment of hi-speed rail which they see as an economic rival which provides a badly needed upgraded in America's critical transportation infrastructure network.  


(The above picture is a hi-speed German rail ICE train which is capable of traveling at 186 mph)

"The new arms race: China planning high-speed rail network to Russia, India, Europe"

 This diary is about rekindling America's lost love affair with trains.

Creating a hi-speed rail critical infrastructure would involve laying a lot of hi-speed rail track. That's one more way that hi-speed rail would create a lot of new GREEN JOBS for Americans that cannot be outsourced! This is one more reason to get on board hi-speed rail. Do you agree?

We can do better than this and that's not off the rails either. Please call your member of Congress and please tell them to get on track with hi-speed rail. It's a green technology, as quick as air on many routes, it creates GREEN JOBS that can't be outsourced , and it can serve the American traveling public as an alternative to air travel on many routes. While concurrently providing a socially leveling and generally affordable critical infrastructure for a public option in transportation which is America's future. If we ignore this reality in America then we're certain to continue on the path of a superpower in decline....

The Economist: New York high-speed rail: A bleak futureFeb 7th 2014, 20:22 by N.B. | Washington, D.C.

THREE DAYS after he took office in 2010, Andrew Cuomo, New York's Democratic governor, wrote a letter to Ray LaHood, who was at the time Barack Obama's secretary of transportation. In it, Mr Cuomo asked that New York be given the federal high-speed rail money that other, Republican-led states had rejected. "High speed rail is critical to building the foundation for future economic growth, especially Upstate," Mr Cuomo wrote.

"In the end, New York was allocated around $300m to help reduce delays in and out of Penn Station,... but nothing to further its high-speed rail ambitions. And since then, Mr Cuomo's campaign promise to make such trains a priority has been largely FORGOTTEN".
http://www.economist.com/...

When will America finally get on-board with hi-speed rail?
 If the world can use high-speed trains so can we.

This is about rekindling America's lost love affair with trains.

The truth is that the physics contrary to what some may believe, and economics of high speed rail work profitably and economically everywhere else in the world, where concurrently they have thriving aviation and automotive industries. The idea that this could never happen in the US is to blaspheme the physics that allow it to work just fine everywhere else in the world.

This can be done most efficaciously in the good ole US of A only because people have been brainwashed into believing a campaign of misinformation, lies and deception, because Americans have little or no personal experience with true hi-speed rail. And are tricked into believing that hi-speed rail isn't an economically viable choice. In fact it is, and the building of a hi-speed rail network would introduce a large number of good paying jobs that are green jobs that cannot be outsourced abroad. This would have the effect of stimulating the tax base as well as the economy.

The best US rail network is purported to be from Washington DC to Boston in the Acela, where a pretty train for the most part has to run on an antiquated rail network. As a matter of fact Noam Chomsky took that train and told me that he could see along the highway that the train was being overtaken by cars, whereas in Europe true hi-speed rail trains move in excess of 200 mph or faster. That is what America needs commitment to a true hi-speed rail network that is national, and not just in the Washington DC to Boston corridor. But to get there we are going to need your help.

ARE SOCIETIES IN LIFE AND ART SOCIALLY ENGINEERED?

What does it say about our society when even art can't imitate real life in America. By way of a comment in levity, I point out that even in the Hunger Games film they had nationwide hi-speed rail system in their fictionalized view of a future dystopian America, but in the real America there is no nationwide hi-speed rail system for art to imitate. Now how strange is that.

Is it really true that the only way to get hi speed rail in America is to out source the job to China? (humor) :-)

           This is about rekindling America's lost love affair with rail travel.
The fact is that hi-speed rail is just an idea whose time has come in socially re-engineering America to benefit working class people. So please consider calling or writing to your member of Congress today and tell them to get on board with America's future in hi-speed rail, (to that end please share this diary in social media) . But this diary is about something else as well. It's about rekindling America's lost love affair with trains and reconnecting with the good old grid iron, that from sea to shining sea built a nation called America, which could be discovered a whistle stop away one community at a time. It is this type of no-nonsense practical American value that we understand, this is an idea and a positive American vision that's worth sharing, because rail travel is the idea that made America great. It did so then it can do so today. All we have to do is to care enough to get involved and make it happen and we can do it for ourselves, our communities and for America's future! (Warm smile) Yes it really is true....if we build it they will come. (End of diary).
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As a special treat for trail buffs here is a short 1min. video of a almost 100 year old German steam locomotive. Of course German trains are much faster.          (Enjoy the short video)  :-)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Please feel invited to follow me on Twitter or the Daily Kos.

Daily Kos: Democrats Ramshield
Link: http://www.dailykos.com/...

My email address: democratsramshield@yahoo.com
--------------------------------------------

I follow:
 Virginians for High Speed Rail on Facebook
Midwest High Speed Rail Association on Facebook
and also entertainment ComicBookGirl19's Youtube channel.

Originally posted to Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Global Expats, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos Classics.

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    You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

    by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:23:06 AM PDT

  •  Rail travel (21+ / 0-)

    will return when Americans cannot afford to fly or tire of the nuisances flying has become.

    Until then, flight is preferred.

    Obsoleting the aviation infrastructure will be a painful process absorbed by local communities; it won't be pretty. And while every reason is present to switch to rail, that big flying aluminum tube thingie prevails.

    The switch is "on" for transporting goods and freight via rail. Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Union Pacific are out building the others capacity to haul conex boxes (intermodal containers) everywhere. As with the flight versus high speed rail competition, the economics of fuel costs are dominating.

    Suddenly, it dawns on me, Earnest T. Bass is the intellectual and philosophical inspiration of the TeaParty.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:39:27 AM PDT

    •  If the world can use high-speed trains so can we. (102+ / 0-)

      The truth is that the physics contrary to what some may believe, and economics of high speed rail work profitably and economically everywhere else in the world, where concurrently they have thriving aviation and automotive industries. The idea that this could never happen in the US is to blaspheme the physics that allow it to work just fine everywhere else in the world.

      This can be done most efficaciously in the good ole US of A only because people have been brainwashed into believing a campaign of misinformation, lies and deception, because Americans have little or no personal experience with true hi-speed rail. And are tricked into believing that hi-speed rail isn't an economically viable choice. In fact it is, and the building of a hi-speed rail network would introduce a large number of good paying jobs that are green jobs that cannot be outsourced abroad. This would have the effect of stimulating the tax base as well as the economy.

      The fact is that hi-speed rail is just an idea whose time has come. So please consider calling or writing to your member of Congress today and tell them to get on board with America's future in hi-speed rail.

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:06:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We can use two lane highways to cross the country (13+ / 0-)

        too. But we have 4. We can use 4 lane roads to cross town, but we have 8. The interstate highway system wasn't an accident. Even if it's different than the old world.

        I think we'd have to station these trains adjacent to airports to make sense.

        One problem seems to be that our federal government is tied in knots to spend money on any thing that doesn't effect everyone. And that's not reasonably for high speed rail.

        •  put them downtown. (11+ / 0-)

          that's where the people are.

          •  In Amsterdam they did both (24+ / 0-)

            Trains stop at the airport and then downtown. The airport rail station is downstairs from the main terminal.

            “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Lyndon Baines Johnson

            by spacecadet1 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:38:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  BWI-Amtrak too (5+ / 0-)

              but, that was a lucky coincidence.

              Airports are by nature way out in the sticks where
              land is cheap,

              Urban downtowns have high concentrations of people.

              Far better to have a quick express train to get people downtown, from the airport,  and let the HSR run right
              into town.

              Boston Logan has a T Line to get you into town.

              Chicago OHare has a Express L Train to take you downtown.
              if that ran into Union Station in chicago it would be ideal.

              Where' it's a convenient thing sure,  but,
              HSR into NYC shouldn't take a loop through JFK or LGA,
              it should hit the people rich part of manhattan and then drill outwards.

              •  The CTA blue line to O'hare... (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sea note, unclebucky, Yoshimi, UKDem, davelf2

                ... is by no means "express". It stops at every damn stop along the way.

                •  i thought it ws express too (0+ / 0-)

                  at certain hours

                •  There's a plan to create expresses. (0+ / 0-)

                  How, I'm not sure (since, you know, RAIL, and not a lot of space for sidings), but it's on Rahm's list.

                  "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

                  by nightsweat on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:46:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That was on Daley's list (0+ / 0-)

                    And the whole project was abandoned a few years ago, after CTA had sunk a couple hundred million in a hole in the ground (literally*; the block 37 project downtown with a partially-complete, now mothballed subway station in the basement).

                    I haven't heard anything about Rahm actually making that a priority.

                    *I mean literally to the hole in the ground, not that CTA literally put money into the ground, I'm anal about using the word "literally" as it literally means.

                •  I was hoping someone would correct that... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  UKDem, davelf2, SherrieLudwig

                  Yes, every station. There is not even a skip stop or A/B station strategy. There is no way for one train to pass another, because there are only two tracks anywhere along this line. What we need is another line that would offer express service to:

                  1. Rosemont (suburb just outside of the airport)

                  2. Connection to Amtrak (trains that go to other cities)

                  3. Connection to local CTA and Metra (local trains)

                  4. Downtown Chicago, "The Loop".

                  Such a train could reasonably connect finally at the South Shore line, enabling people to continue to South suburbs and around the Lake.

                  But no. We have taxis stuck in our rush hours.

                  Ugh. --UB.

                  Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

                  by unclebucky on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:01:23 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  It is still one of the better links... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...in the US, but why doesn't it go to Union Station? Transit in Chicago is better than elsewhere in the US (and I say this having almost frozen to death waiting for a Brown line train), but why aren't the different modes integrated?

                  Crazily in the 19th and early 20th century you had multiple companies running the London Underground with competing stations in the same locations, but somehow it was drawn into a somewhat coherent whole - albeit with some long pedestrian tunnels - but not half as bad as the Paris Metro which was centrally planned!

                  •  One of the sad facts about transit in Chicago (0+ / 0-)

                    is that none of the CTA rail lines directly serve any of the major train terminals downtown.  You have to walk a block or two.  It's more an artifact of history than anything else.  The Blue Line gets kinda close, at Clinton St, but you have to walk up a couple flights of stairs (no elevators), then up a couple of blocks to get to the station.  Prior to the 1950s, that line used to stop on Van Buren (a block north), at an elevated station, but that was torn down when the subway was built.

                    When these lines were built, they were built by private companies that operated the trains.  Intercity and commuter trains operated out of a half dozen or so different terminals.  Many intercity trains didn't even serve the same station.  The idea of building the system for connections just wasn't a thing back then, I guess.  Since the Dearborn subway was built, there has been very little investment in the L infrastructure downtown (the occasional new station), and no new downtown trackage.  So, there really hasn't been the opportunity to have the L connect to Union Station.

                    Union Station itself is a dump and needs a ton of money to fix it up.  If that money were to ever materialize, one nice addition would be an extended subway connection to the Clinton Station.  It would still be just as long of a walk, but it would be weatherproof and less scary for unfamiliar tourists.

                    There are also "proposals" out there to build a Clinton St. connector subway of some sort, but that's about as realistic as any of the super-HSR plans as far as actually getting built.  www.midwesthsr.org has a lot of information on such ideas.  Worthy of support, IMO, if you want good transportation improvements in the midwest.

                    •  Very interesting, thank you. (0+ / 0-)

                      While Union Station is faded, it is a faded grandeur, I always loved it, despite its lack of connections. But, God knows what you'd do if you weren't able bodied and wanted to transfer to a train from O'Hare.

                      In London we have seen such a station totally transformed - http://www.stpancras.com/ - an international transport hub and a destination in itself, connected to the tube with lifts.

              •  Amtrak stops at EWR (Newark, NJ) too. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                spacecadet1

                "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom." -- G.W.Carver

                by northbronx on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:09:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Chicago does NOT have an express (0+ / 0-)

                L train downtown. There were plans for one but it never happened.

              •  Denver has light rail under construction from (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling

                the Amtrack station downtown out to the airport.  That's likely to start in 2016 (I'm hoping they get it done early) and I'm hopeful that service will be fairly quick.  When that's done, I'll have service to either downtown Amtrack (which doesn't go where I want it to) or on to the airport (from which I can get a plane going anywhere).  

                High Speed Rail would be great and I'd choose it, having experienced the Chunnel train between London and Paris, but for longer distances I'd probably still fly in order to get there in a few hours rather than a couple of days.

                •  Denver is building a commuter rail line to its (0+ / 0-)

                  airport, not a light rail line. Denver is also building other commuter rail lines and light rail lines to serve a very wide area around the region.

                  Denver's railroad station rebuilding reduces convenience for Amtrak passengers by moving Amtrak's platform further from the building. Addition of a hotel within the station building adds convenience, however.

                  Experience in China and Europe suggests that high speed rail is highly competitive with commercial aviation for distances far greater than 500 miles. That latter figure is highly theoretical. Its users confuse two different factors -- how long a trip an individual might take by train; and how long train routes may economically serve a vast array of person-trips between multiple stations between each end of the train trip. China runs HSR on very long routes, not necessarily because passengers want to ride from one end of the route to the other, but because hundreds of people wish to ride between many cities between the train trip ends.

            •  Ditto for Frankfurt am Main, Germany. n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NearlyNormal, mrkvica

              The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

              by lotlizard on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:10:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  And mighty convenient as well (0+ / 0-)

              75534 4-ever or until dk5

              by NearlyNormal on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:48:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Same in Frankfurt (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lupin, spacecadet1

              Murkins don't want no socialist trains you can't steer for yourself, nossiree.

              I'm on the East coast, and I suspect we will never actually have real high speed trains.  Too built up, and PROPERTY RIGHTS! make acquisition of expanded right of way pretty near impossible.

              Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

              by triplepoint on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:36:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  After seeing the Spanish crash on tv (0+ / 0-)

                for about 2 weeks straight, no one wants a high-speed train anywhere near them.

                Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

                by PsychoSavannah on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:57:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Railroad tracks of yesteryear (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ColoTim

                We had tracks for trains everywhere in the USA.... they are now jogging paths.  Not concerned about being built up Where there's a way, we will find it..... Florida was a good start but our gov, Scott, didnt like Pres Obama so he & his lawyer lied about the expense to the tax payers & Calif got our train money.... Wisconsin, same thing...

              •  And Paris. (0+ / 0-)

                To get to the RER, light rail connecting/running parallel with Paris Metro seen in the video below with a red stripe, going into Paris one walks by a window overlooking the TVG train platforms.

                So, even if both are old design, sprawling airports with multiple terminals requiring people movers from terminal to terminal and external links, once one boards an aircraft at JFK bound for Paris (or Frankfurt and many other cities/countries with integrated systems) one is into the total Western European network.

                1. Catch the airport system to the rail terminal and ride into a Paris Metro station on RER, switch to Metro if needed and do as I did walk the couple of minutes to the hotel.

                2. Catch the TGV to

                La gare TGV est desservie à la fois par le CDGVAL, le RER B, et par les TGV vers Lille, Bruxelles, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Rennes, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Tours, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Champagne-Ardenne TGV [or any connecting TGV or intercity rail]… Elle est appelée à devenir le terminus de la future liaison CDG Express. En 2008, La gare TGV a connu un trafic de 3,4 millions de passagers.
                So, though I stayed a night in Paris, it was possible to fly from JFK to Paris and take the TGV through to Switzerland doing nothing but rolling a bag through terminals and platforms. By the way, TGV in both Geneva and Basel arrive in "France" where one goes over (through customs and immigration as Switzerland is non EU) to the Swiss platforms. Below are the French platforms and "France" as viewed from the Swiss platforms.

                I have a very nice shot from "Switzerland's" terminal food and shopping mall with all in German down the corridor to a blue sign FRANCE, and customs, immigration through doors leading to French decor and atmosphere.

                I've found most of my countrymen and women who have not experienced such integrated travel have no clue. Even some that have traveled in Europe on tours or renting cars have trouble grasping what I know. In cities and even towns across Western Europe I pretty much count on a five to ten minute walk to a local public system that connects to national and international bus, rail and air inside other terminals. Integrated transportation that is exciting and new in our most densely populated corridors is what I've expected for over four decades in Japan and decades in Western Europe.

                The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                by pelagicray on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 09:44:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Seattle Light Rail - (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Democrats Ramshield

              goes from Seatac Airport, the major air hub for the area, to downtown Seattle, including stopping at the Amtrak station. Adding high-speed rail service from there to points north, south and east would be a simple addition.
              Local authorities are also talking about extending light rail and commuter rail to Everett in the north, and Tacoma to the south, which would add the ability to connect the high speed rail to most of the Puget Sound region.

              •  Dragontec64 Thanks for the interesting post&hopful (0+ / 0-)

                post. Thanks also for sharing info with your readers. Are there HSR support groups in your area?

                You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

                by Democrats Ramshield on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 12:58:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Seattle's airport is very close to a suburban (0+ / 0-)

                Amtrak/commuter rail station just to the east, behind a major chain hotel. I have used it to connect to SeaTac from a train from Portland OR.

                Decades ago, before Germany first operated true HSR trains, the German airline Lufthansa operated its own 100+mph trains between the Frankfurt airport and surround towns. These replaced very short airline routes previously served by small planes.

                About as long ago, travelers using Swissair between New York and Zurich Switzerland could check baggage in New York for pick-up at their hotel nearly anywhere in Switzerland.  To the best of my knowledge, that service ceased to be available when Swissair disappeared as a national airline.
                Even today, from Zurich airport, passengers may take a train to almost any city, town or village in Switzerland. Such a trip may also include use of boats on lakes or rivers, mountain cog railways and local rail transit.

                Clearly Europe has for decades been light-years ahead of the USA when it comes to convenient, inter-modal (non-auto) travel. Sad that we fail to recognize how to calculate the benefits of such convenience. As another discussion participants notes, we demand that all transportation be "profitable", unsubsidized by tax funds. Our usual "profitability" calculations ignore the wider socio-economic value of modern transportation, thus failing to accurately measure true costs vs. revenues. We are thus doomed to inferior transportation until this particular set of blinders disappear.

            •  Love Schiphol Airport and Dutch trains (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Democrats Ramshield

              I often fly into Amsterdam Schiphol, and my first stop is generally Arnhem, which is very close to the German border.  It's all so simple:  after walking through the Green Channel at customs, I walk straight ahead, make a left, and a right, walk past restaurants and small shops, and straight on to an atrium where the train ticket windows and vending machines are loated.  I go to one of them -- the windows are much slower if you know what you're doing as I do -- feed in a 20 Euro note and buy my ticket, which I stuff in a pocket before heading for the nearby escalator which takes me to the platforms beneath the station.  Trains run to Arnhem about every 12-15 minutes during the day, so I generally go from escalator straight onto a train.  Well under an hour later (It's about 75 miles to Arnhem from Schiphol) I'm in Arnhem.

              Just by the way, platforms at virtually all Dutch train stations are wheelchair-accessible.  Even  stations in small towns have elevators to make that possible.  And I'm not even going to mention the train station  bicycle rental facilities, or the fact that for around $5 you can transport your bike on the train with you if you wish. Another reminder, Holland has the world's most extensive network of bike paths, so you can ride safely throughout the country and through the busiest towns and cities.  As far as I'm concerned, it's damned hard to beat the transport system that the Dutch have created on their tiny bit of European real estate.  We should be so lucky here.  :-(

              -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

              by GulfExpat on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 05:21:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  train Conductor, Please Drop Me a Mile From Airpor (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          belinda ridgewood, pelagicray

          The problem is systemic. Lawa, which runs lax, has been systemically gamed. Lawa is dependent on parking revenue along w rental car, cab and limo revenue. This gaming is systemic and planned. Lawa has opposed any direct mass transit into lax. Our beloved GM and ExxonMobil lobbyists were involved in the setting up of lawa and its financing.

          The systematic gaming of administrative entities is how GM/Exxon lobbyists established reasonable deniability..

          In California, We Wouldn’t Dream of Connecting Our Trains and Planes. That’d Be Too Far-Sighted.

      •  "economically viable choice" (61+ / 0-)

        Unfortunately - and I say this a supporter, wherever possible, of rail development and upgrading - the definition of "economically viable" in the US is in almost every case, interpreted to mean "turn a profit". Elsewhere in the world, most governments view rail transport as a public good (and in  fact, most other countries have a government-owned or -run rail monopoly), and invest significant amounts of public funds in their rail networks. Here, though, the "private enterprise" model still holds sway: just look at the "debate" that arises every year or so over government subsidies to Amtrak: the notion that a transportation system that doesn't "pay its own way" isn't worth having is, sadly, deeply engrained in our social and political culture. See also the problems California has run into over opposition to its own - strictly intra-state - HSR project: almost entirely focusing on its "economic viability": i.e., not considered worth spending State money on, as it isn't foreseen to be "profitable".

      •  High Speed rail would change so many things in (36+ / 0-)

        this country that the powers are happy with, like more affordable health care, it would free the labor force, it would change real estate values all over the country.  You could live further than you can today and commute without giving up half your life to a car commute and stress.  The landscape of this country is perfect for high speed rail so our inability to embrace it makes no sense.  

        •  Freeing the labor force is a huge deal. It's hard (3+ / 0-)

          to get from MI to TX. It's a significant move. In Europe it would be the other side of the continent.

          If you didn't drive by car, what would happen to all the gas station Oases that a good portion of rural America is designed around?

          It's such a significant shift and far too efficient to service our byzantine corporate community markets.

          I hope that makes sense...

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:29:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  High Speed Rail =/= Commuter Trains (5+ / 0-)

          Since the OP mentioned Physics, every time a train makes a stop you have to deal with f=ma ... twice (once to 'accelerate' down to a stop and a second time to accelerate back up to running speed.)

          One of the problems with CA's HSR is the fights about how many stops to have.  If the train stops too frequently it isn't any better than driving down I5 ... if it stops too infrequently the towns up & down CA's central valley get no use from it.

          Also, it is problematic to run it into San Francisco proper... the train would have to go through plenty of wealthy neighborhoods who have NIMBY-ed it.  

          Frankly, I don't understand why we cannot treat HSR like airplanes - you don't put major airports in the middle of big cities, you put them in the outskirts are rely on public transportation to get there.  San Jose has a decent train station that HSR & Cal-train can share.  

          Let the commuter trains make all of the stops and let HSR handle long-distance travel.  At least for now.

          Maybe in the future - after the Bay Area folks have grown accustomed to it, they can improve the cal train tracks and extend HSR to Frisco.

          -- illegitimi non carborundum

          by BadBoyScientist on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:56:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I thought the best idea (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jay C, divineorder, mike101

            would be to have 2 or 3 train cars at the end of the train for passengers going up to San Francisco; they could uncouple those cars in San Jose and let HSR continue up the East Bay side to Oakland and Sacramento, while the SF bound passengers could be coupled on the next "Baby Bullet" which would get them to the city in a little over an hour. Schedule could be set up to make sure the HSR meets up with a BB.

            The main issue with HSR going into SF is that it will require extra trackage to run alongside the current Caltrain alignment, and will also require grade separations at many intersections (Caltrain has already constructed some grade separations for their trains, but a lot more need to be built; we have an at-grade crossing just down the street from us at Sunnyvale Avenue that's a major access to an elementary school plus part of a bus route). You've got the dual issue of the construction noise -- people who live along there have learned to deal with Caltrain but not with HSR -- plus the possibility of some people losing some pretty pricy property to eminent domain if the right-of-way needs to be widened to accommodate both Caltrain and HSR trackage (that's especially the situation in both Palo Alto and Atherton).

            There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

            by Cali Scribe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:14:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Unfortunately they did not choose to put BART down (0+ / 0-)

              to San Jose the way it goes down to Pleasanton in the East Bay.  It would somewhat solve the problem.

              •  There's a reason BART doesn't parallel Caltrain (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lakehillsliberal

                And that reason is that Caltrain exists, and moves more people per mile for less money than BART. BART was a scam and boondoggle from day one when they decided to go with a non-standard rail gauge and a center rail with a non-standard voltage rather than a standard catenary system with standard voltage. The nonstandard gauge and voltage require custom cars (a.k.a. BOONDOGGLE) rather than being able to buy cars from literally dozens of manufacturers worldwide (and surplus cars from thousands of transit authorities around the world) right off the shelf. Center rail systems also require grade separation and are more expensive than catenaries for a system that goes over 80 miles from San Francisco to Gilroy (i.e, Caltrain). Thus why Caltrain will use catenaries when electrified.

                BART is building from Fremont to San Jose because the closest heavy rail line to Fremont BART is the old Missouri Pacific, which is now owned by VTA but has way too many grade crossings which mandate a maximum speed of 25mph, too slow to be reasonable. The Southern Pacific line that ends up in Santa Clara is fast and does eventually link up with BART north of Oakland, but has a different problem -- it's single-tracked through environmentally sensitive marshes and dual-tracking it so that it could handle rapid transit needs is probably impossible with today's environmental regulations.  So BART makes sense from Fremont to San Jose. But from San Mateo to San Jose? Not so much. Especially once BART connects with Caltrain at the main San Jose rail station... though I expect to be retired and in a nursing home before that happens.

                [Extremists] are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped. -- H. L. Mencken

                by badtux on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 09:37:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  We don't need true highspeed rail (yet) (18+ / 0-)

        I don't dispute that high speed rail development is desirable.  However, I am not willing to let the perfect be enemy of the good enough.  We have chronically under invested in rail infrastructure since the 50s because of interstate highway development.  Our goals should be much more modest in the short term.  

        Expansion of affordable passenger rail service with a high frequency  and modest speeds.
        *  We have many undeserved communities that need better transportation options.  
        *  80% of light rail eligible trips are taken by train.  
        *  This is cheap and will have immediate network effects as more people take the train, more people will take the train.  
        *  Network size matters.  The 1st telephone is the least valuable portion of the network.  The millionth phone because of network effects is vastly more valuable.  

        Increase speeds modestly in highly trafficked corridors.  
        *  We have a major maintenance backlog to get back to performance seen in the late 20s/early 30s.  
        *  Small improvements over large areas will be a cheap way to increase passenger miles traveled.  Full trains are profitable trains.  
        *  Small improvements like eliminating grade crossings and engineering grade crossings to enhance safety and allow higher train speeds will pay provide small cumulative benefits.  

        Build communities around rail transit:
        *  Railway stations should have surrounding land zoned for dense multi-use development to promote commuter rail use.
        *  Light rail and trolley systems should interconnect at railway stations.  
        *  Building passenger railway infrastructure and expecting people to drive to the train station is a bad idea as its not much more effort to drive to the intercity destination.  
        *  Improve capacity of commuter rail lines, particularity allowing bi-directional travel all day.  

        Existing trends are favorable:
        *  Fuel oil prices make train travel more attractive.  
        *  Highway congestion makes train travel more attractive
        *  Cities are realizing that cars get in the way of street cars are street car lines should have dedicated Right of Way in city streets.  
        *  Air pollution control is aided by transitioning passenger travel to rail.  
        *  FRA has modernized its rules to make high speed (>79 MPH) service cheaper, making passenger coaches lighter to enable better acceleration and breaking and reducing fuel consumption.

        To me, its all about the network.  Getting a good passenger / freight rail network that is highly competitive with highway transportation will inevitably lead to high speed rail lines that are competitive with air travel over longer distances.  We can't get there until we have a railway network that out competes highway travel in areas with a reasonable population density.  

        I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

        by DavidMS on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:27:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The other problem is that freight trains have (12+ / 0-)

          right of way in a lot of corridors. So for example, the Amtrak train from the East San Francisco Bay going down to San Jose is used by a number of commuters, but every couple of weeks it  will be late,  or way late, because it has to pull over onto a siding while a freight train uses the rails.

          But I do agree that moderately increasing the speed, and altering the time tables so you don't arrive at say Salt Lake City at 3am (or at least have an express train that would serve point A-point B at reasonable hours)

          •  That's also the issue for the (4+ / 0-)

            SEA-LA corridor (Coast Starlight, known in railfan parlance around here as the Coast StarLATE for that reason), and the full route of the Capitol Corridor (SJ-SAC via Oakland). Capitol Corridor trains can often be delayed by the drawbridges in the Sacramento area opening for river traffic. And just imagine if an Amtrak train gets stuck behind a broken-down freight in a single-track area; happened to me and Mr. Scribe several years ago returning from an LA trip -- ended up over 4 hours late returning to SJ.

            There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

            by Cali Scribe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:19:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Sharing rails with freight is a big problem. (7+ / 0-)

            In the Upper Midwest, passenger rail is becoming totally dysfunctional due to sharing rails with freight trains. Freight traffic is booming due to oil shipments from North Dakota, on top of the steady shipments of coal and agricultural products. The freight carriers used to extend more courtesy to passenger trains and not delay them in favor of freight but that has fallen by the wayside and passenger trains are frequently sent to the back of the line.

            Amtrak's Empire Builder, which runs from Chicago to Seattle and passes through the heart of ND oil fields on the way is routinely experiencing delays of 10+ hours. In Minneapolis, ridership on the single regional heavy rail commuter line, the Northstar, has collapsed because freight has frequently delayed the commuter train 60 minutes or more. The whole point of the train is that it reliably gets you from Point A to Point B on a fixed schedule. If it can't do that it is worthless to most people and they go back to single-occupant-vehicle car commuting.

            Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

            by Joe Bob on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:52:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Just not true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoMoJoe

          Air traffic in the US is a disaster.  (A major justification for Acela is offloading the airports and I-95 in the Northeast.)  But if you're not going between Boston, NY, and DC, you're out of luck.

          If we had TGV- or Shinkansen-quality service here, you'd offload most air traffic (and a lot of road traffic as well) between pretty much any two cities within 500 miles of each other.  

        •  Great Rant (0+ / 0-)

          I loved your rant re: lack of rail road travel support.

          I would like to add that we need an integrated system for transporting both goods and people.  Trucks and cars are inefficient, wasteful and unnecessarily polluting.  With manufacturing as a job creator expanded human services is only way to go.

          Thank you  

      •  The fact that it is 'just an idea' to many is (8+ / 0-)

        because less than 9% of US citizens have traveled outside the country. Remove Canada and Mexico from that % and I'll bet it is less than 5%. That means 95% of our citizens have NO CLUE what other countries are doing and how their transportation is advancing. They probably think they ALL have Amtrak type trains and think "why would we pay for something so archaic".

      •  My karate instructor was in Japan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        samddobermann

        in 1970, they already had high speed trains-44 freakin' years ago!!

        •  1970? Look back a bit. (0+ / 0-)

          The Tokaido line opened 1 October 1964. For a time grasp, think of that "old" movie, Cary Grant's last, Walk Don't Run with young Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton. Seems almost quaint when viewed today. Yeah, Shinkansen would have been running between Tokyo and Osaka when the movie was set, much less filmed in 1966.

          A few years before your instructor I thought we were late, a sometimes suicide inducing problem with train operators, until I raised the shade and saw we were already in Tokyo suburbs. Acceleration was computer controlled so passengers felt nothing. I watched Fuji slide by and rice fields blur by with a beer in a tall glass on the ledge in the snack car. Not a ripple, not a tremor. Full speed. Low noise, quiet conversation possible, except when meeting the shockwave of a passing train or tunnel entrance—all external vents closed automatically when approaching tunnels to eliminate pressure change inside from that fast entry into a tube.

          Yeah, lemme see, that was back when I was buying cameras and electronic gear unavailable in the U.S. and when our financial "genius" sector  was beginning to ship all our non military technical manufacturing to cheap Japan which in turn went to China . . . Oh yeah, we could ship the know how overseas without worry. People didn't need manufacturing experience to feed their inventiveness. Anyway, they could become stock brokers feeding off all that hot stock exchanging or realtors doing the same with housing.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:37:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But...but...Freedom...! (0+ / 0-)

        (...to sit in traffic jams, as well I know....)

        The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

        by magnetics on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:21:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  did a botched high speed rail deal in Calif? (0+ / 0-)

        taint other high speed rail projects - because the Calif. deal costs much more than expected, etc.

        "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

        by MartyM on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:46:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MartyM, sukeyna

          Red state governors botched it. California was lucky enough to be a state with three major cities within its boundaries. Other states aren't so lucky and they are dependent on cities in neighboring states to pull off a successful project. In many of those cases the neighboring state has a Republican governor unwilling to push for HSR.

      •  Not so fast, we live in France now and ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yoshimi, MGross

        high-speed trains have become very expensive.

        I'm on a year-long sabbatical to study medieval manuscripts at various European libraries. We're based in France (300km outside of Paris, but in a city on the TGV line) and I've had trips so far to Lisbon, London, Rome, and Siena.

        We had thought we'd be taking trains to all of these places, but French TGV trains have gotten to be much more expensive than they were, say, 20 years ago. I've taken Vueling and EasyJet.

        I am not sure what the difference has been. Maybe the competition from low-cost airlines has squeezed them.

        I love trains, and we'll be taking the train to Switzerland in May, but things are not quite as clear-cut as you may think.

        Anyway, that's my report from the ground in France.

        •  That is one of the ironical bits. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kirnerpilstime

          Cut rate air has come in to compete with "luxury" rail travel. Less than zero frills (What happened to that standing only flight? the one where everyone would stand strapped to a padded board?) flights and all the airport mess.

          On the other hand, for shorter or non time critical trips the regular rail in most of Europe isn't as expensive as the premium high speed and outruns our single example of "high speed" on a routine basis.

          I actually prefer the regular intercity in many cases. The TGV and its relatives have been over too quickly several times when I'd really like to sit back, sip beers, listen to music and watch the country side pass in less than a damn blur. Remember seeing a rather spectacular old fortress sitting on a sharp little peak on the Spanish plain between Madrid and Cordoba. Spotted it as we curved toward a close pass. By the time I'd wrangled my camera out of a bag we were sweeping by it in a blur.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:48:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Point very well taken, Democrats. And precisely (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Democrats Ramshield

        for the reasons you enumerate, the Repubs/(Dirt)Baggers will continue to suppress such an enterprise of mass transit across this country. The term "brainwashed" does not even begin to approach what has happened to the American mind...it's quite boggling.

      •  single train line from Los angeles to san diego (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Democrats Ramshield

        When I say single line I mean trains have a single one way track. One train waits till the other one way has exited before crossing.

        Imagine if there was a single lane donkey path connecting LA and san diego

        http://www.trbimg.com/...

        single line

      •  Blaspheming PHYSICS?? (0+ / 0-)

        Not to be a nit picker here, but doesn't "blasphemy" ALWAYS carry a religious connotation?

        I mean, they MIGHT see high speed rail as blasphemy against their religious conviction that those that HAVE the money DESERVE TO KEEP the money, but even THAT is something of a stretch.

        Speaking out against settled science (e. g., "High-speed rail is useless", "Global Warming is a fraud", or "Abstinence is the most effective national birth control strategy", to select but a few popular instances from recent events) isn't "blasphemy", it's merely STUPIDITY.  Calling it anything else risks giving stupidity more gravitas than it deserves.

        OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

        by mstaggerlee on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 01:58:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nope. (45+ / 0-)
      Until then, flight is preferred.
      Flight is the only high-speed option in this country. That's the only real reason it's still utilized the most.

      I'd like to visit my family in Pennsylvania more. I live in Florida. But I don't visit anymore because I will not fly. I refuse to be a lab-rat experiment for those sick bastards at the "Transportation Safety Administration".  

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:27:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's basically a long overnight train trip now (20+ / 0-)

        Not as convenient as flying, but not THAT long if you can spare the time. I think we take way too many weekend trips in the US by flight, and that's part of the problem. People need to get longer paid vacations so they don't have to rush getting to/from their getaways (and businesses have to invest more in telecommuting). So many things are messed up about this country.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:45:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well yeah (10+ / 0-)

          but flying is still faster, is the point I'm making, and it's the only high-speed choice, no matter how many vacations of any duration people take or don't take.

          So many things are messed up about this country.
           
          Yeah...

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:03:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And I ask again, what's the rush? (21+ / 0-)

            Part of the problem is this mindset that wherever we go and whatever we do, it has to be FAST. Why? And it's not like you're saving that much QUALITY time by flying, between getting to the airport, going through security, waiting to board, waiting to take off, the flight itself, the deboarding, waiting for your luggage, getting to your final destination. For most people this represents the better part of a day, and you're stressed out afterwards, meaning you don't get to really enjoy your destination till the next day at the earliest. A whole day basically wasted just to get there "faster". Makes no sense to me.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:10:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No kidding! (7+ / 0-)

              It's why I don't fly!

              between getting to the airport, going through security, waiting to board, waiting to take off, the flight itself, the deboarding, waiting for your luggage, getting to your final destination. For most people this represents the better part of a day, and you're stressed out afterwards
              But whether I'm going away for two days or fourteen, I still want to get as much "time in" at my actual destination as I can. Even so, what you or I define "quality time" as is incredibly subjective--and has very little to do with why high-speed rail is desperately needed in this country.

              This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

              by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:19:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I suggest that it does (6+ / 0-)

                Are we Americans so different from people in the rest of the world that our definition of "quality" time and speed is that different? I think we're just more spoiled and impatient and possessing a much greater and UTTERLY unearned sense of entitlement based on an unwarranted and immensely silly sense of superiority over the rest of the world. Fact is, to the extent that we're different from the rest of the world, it's mostly because we're dumber, mentally lazier and more spoiled than the rest of the world. We still seem to think that we just won WWII and are better than everyone else.

                We also always seem to need to be in motion, on our way somewhere or planning or thinking about what's next, never just HERE. It's our sickness and a delusion that's destroying us from the inside out. Slow down, America!

                Which, ironically, HSR would help us do.

                "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:29:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, that's one way of looking at it (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ozsea1
                  I think we're just more spoiled and impatient and possessing a much greater and UTTERLY unearned sense of entitlement

                  This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                  by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:36:14 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  If Americans had the vacation time that's standard (16+ / 0-)

                  in the EU, they might be more open to the concept of enjoying the journey as much as the destination. When you have 2 weeks paid time off here (if you're lucky), when you're overworked to the edge of depression and dysfunction and seriously need R&R, the time involved in getting away--as opposed to being away--can seem a spirit-crushing obstacle. The connections for passenger rail outside the Mid-Atlantic to Boston run, and a few select other places, are pathetic. The tracks and trains are sub-par, as this diarist pointed out, let alone the routes and schedules. So is our communications infrastructure. The US is being allowed to crumble. That is the Great Leveling of which the bulk of Americans are unaware--that it's policy, not accident, and both parties are complicit.

                  Yes, Americans are often more ignorant and more spoiled than much of the rest of the world and walk around in "we're no. 1" blinders that, other than military might, are mostly long outdated. Ignorance and flag-waving pride are not a combination well suited to progress of any kind.

                  •  See, and that's the trap we've gotten ourselves (7+ / 0-)

                    into, by growing used and resigned to being overworked and underpaid, with too little paid vacation time, sick leave or benefits, always rushing to get somewhere or do something, never really in the moment or enjoying life, vegging out to god-awful "reality" shows and movies and shows too obsessed with violence and malevolence, and doing nothing but whine about it, and either voting for pols who enable this hell, or not voting at all because "what's the point". There comes a time when you stop being a victim and blaming the "system", and just DO something about it. We are not doing that.

                    Thus, spoiled and undeserving.

                    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                    by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:46:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't think you'll get a lot of disagreement, at (6+ / 0-)

                      least not until the libertarians show up, but still, your comment illustrates exactly why we Americans are so different: We have a different socioeconomic culture, and it's going to take some major re-doing.

                      I can't tell you how many times I've seen 15 different SUVs all travel 50 miles (or 100, or 200!) each way to carry 40 to 50 people to a youth sporting event. Players have to be together on a team for about 3 years before the parents become comfortable with the idea of riding in each others' vehicles.

                      I'm told the millennials view these things differently, but I suspect that this refers to a fairly narrow socioeconomic slice, just as analyses of the baby boomers tend to focus on the top 20%. The bottom socioeconomic half of the boomers weren't ever hippies, weren't ever leftists or war protesters, weren't ever feminist activists.

                      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                      by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:40:54 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  There used to be more trust between people (0+ / 0-)

                        My generation (late boomer and early Xers) did away with that. Now you have to do a Google search and run a credit check on someone and have them sign a release to give them the time of day.

                        This needs to change. It will.

                        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                        by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:10:25 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Because it (0+ / 0-)

                        can be dangerous to do so now.

                        Nowadays being nice, and carpooling, or offering a ride can get you sued if even the smallest thing happens.

                        People are so greedy and always looking to make a buck at someone's expense..sad really.

                  •  And those two weeks also include taking time (8+ / 0-)

                    for sick children and your own illnesses in many jobs.  In my work place, I get 120 hours (3 weeks) a year for everything.  Thankfully my boss allows a certain amount for flexing time for appointments.  Example, I can set up an appointment for 4pm, take off at 3.30 and make up the half hour later in the week by staying late.  (note - I work 8-4 with no lunch 'break' - if they're going to schedule meetings during the noon hour and expect me to be there.... I'm not going to give it to them)

                  •  For a nation that promotes "family" (9+ / 0-)

                    We instead promote a degenerate life for those who labor for a living.

                    The lack of coherent "personal" time is only one tool to keep people off balance, isolated, and powerless.  I have seen were workers consider as a normal aspect of their labor things like; "at will" schedules for part-timers, shift work, off-the-clock wage theft, lack of adequate, frequent fragmented vacation and holiday times.

                    These create a culture of victimhood where people can't see beyond the day-to-day drudgery in order to demand a life away from work where they can afford to create value for their families in their daily life.

                    Of course thee oligarchs can then sell things like "we don' need no stinkin' national parks" when people see little about them that touches their lives.

                    My brother is such a drone, sad to say.  The lack of books in his household is considered normal.  His family has not ventured out of our state except to go on "canned" vacations where they are isolated from the world around them.  Who sees nothing wrong with delaying retirement in order to payback the expense of a lavish wedding for a daughter who refuses to work and had no independent life of her own before marriage.  Who's idea of a summer vacation is redoing a lawn that is manicured like something out of a 1950's fantasy.  Who does not see himself as part of the social rot.

                    •  Mr. Scribe was actually REQUIRED (0+ / 0-)

                      to take all his vacation time every year; he had to apply for exemptions to work through vacation time or use it for other needs, and that request had to be approved by his union local. You couldn't just do it if you wanted extra money; there had to be a real hardship, like you had taken unpaid FMLA leave to care for a sick family member or for your own health reasons.

                      (The only drawback was we had to schedule the vacation time during the previous December, so it didn't allow much flexibility for things that popped up; we missed a few family reunions out of state for that reason.)

                      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

                      by Cali Scribe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:30:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  To 2andfro well said. :-) (0+ / 0-)

                    Your post is to old to rec so all I can say is thanks.

                    You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

                    by Democrats Ramshield on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:28:47 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  We are always in motion going nowhere. (7+ / 0-)

                  I watch people on the freeway cutting in and out, in a hurry to cause an accident but going nowhere.  They are stressing themselves out and everyone around them.  I watch other people racing around with their kids in tow trying to be sure that they are getting every kind of advantage but the advantage of time and a sane life.  We could learn much from the rest of the world.

                  •  Quantity over quality (7+ / 0-)

                    Life lived in Big Gulp fashion. It's killing us. Our souls, at least, but also literally. Gotta upgrade to the latest smart phone or big screen TV every 8 months. Renew that luxury car lease every 2-3 years. Build that McMansion. Buy that $10k Trek. Do 0-60 in under 2 seconds. And so on. We're so shallow, selfish and infantile, going nowhere in record time. But, PROGRESS!

                    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                    by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:00:44 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Exactly (8+ / 0-)

                    and we could start by refusing to assign blame to anyone other than who is actually responsible for not bringing high-speed rail to this country, in order to justify their grievous inaction overall on this sorely-needed alternative.

                    It is clearly government's job to provide--and maintain--infrastructure. In the case of high-speed rail, government (and its minions in Big Oil and other related industry that could take a profit hit of any sort), keeps telling us it's "too expensive", and because DEFICITS, we just can't have these things anyway. If we need to do anything in the short term, it is to stop taking such bullshit seriously.

                    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                    by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:20:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It is entirely about taking the money away from (6+ / 0-)

                      the rich people, and spending it on the things we need.

                      The problem is persuading a large enough fraction of the bottom 80% that:

                      A. The rich don't actually deserve what they've got -- they have it as a accident of the market system that we've organized and implemented.

                      B. Government sloth/incompetence/malfeasance is not in any way worse than corporate/private sloth/incompetence/malfeasance, it's just more visible -- which makes it preferable to the corporate/private manifestation.

                      C. Competition is inefficient, and is bad for most of us, most of the time.

                      D. It's worth voting, and voting for people who understand A and B.

                      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                      by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:46:25 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Not taking it AWAY from them, but BACK FROM them (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        maybeeso in michigan, Caniac41

                        Much of it was effectively stolen. Some rich people do create value worth their income. Most appropriate much of it via various legal and illegal means. You will never convince me that Warren Buffet is worth 100,000 times more than a waitress. He seems to agree.

                        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                        by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:13:13 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  but we've got the Best Military In The World™ (0+ / 0-)

                      some say.....

                      This machine kills Fascists.

                      by KenBee on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:13:35 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Depends on where you're going in PA (6+ / 0-)

                From Miami to Philadelphia, you'll essentially lose just the day you lose in air travel. The train leaves Miami shortly after 8 a.m., leaves Jacksonville in the late afternoon, arrives in Philly the next morning. If you're going on to Pittsburgh, you'll lose another day.

                To me, that's a small price to pay for not having to hassle with air travel.

                Another great alternative is the Auto-Train. Departs Sanford (near Orlando) in the afternoon, arrives in Lorton, VA (near D.C.) in the morning. You take your car with you, so from Lorton, just drive to your destination.

                You'll save hundreds of miles driving and avoid the hassles of flying.

                I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

                by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:40:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  All those suggestions are great (7+ / 0-)

                  and goodness knows, I have taken them in the past--I've been on the Auto-Train more than once. But it still does not address the point of this diary--which is every other civilized nation with a lick of sense already has high-speed rail.  

                  I'm quite sure it's not perfect either, but it's another option that the United States should already have, which we do not have. And surely, as with just about everything else lately, that's due in a large part to the usual greed and avarice that's run amok through our governments, from top to bottom.

                  This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                  by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:50:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I was only talking about how long it would take (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NoMoreLies, samddobermann

                    with the non-HSR system that we have today IF it was kept in better condition, which it is not, by DESIGN. But even with today's poorly-maintained system, travel times aren't all that bad, at least not in my experience. Certainly the NE corridor, but also other lines. Just imagine how much better it would be if we invested properly in our existing system, let alone HSR.

                    If we did that, you'd have to be crazy to fly any distance much under 300 miles, and have a damn good reason to fly between 300-600 miles. Even beyond such distances, unless you're in a real rush or on business, train travel would make more sense. A vacation should start WITH the travel to the destination, not at it.

                    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                    by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:36:10 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  East west travel (0+ / 0-)

                      Is godawful! The trains are unreliable and arrive and leave at such hours as make them inappropriate for anyone younger than 10 or older than 70.

                      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

                      by tikkun on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:40:16 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I've generally had good experiences on Amtrak (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        R30A

                        But I'm a fairly forgiving person when traveling by train. For people who ride it regularly, I can see it being a problem with all the delays.

                        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                        by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:16:16 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Amtrak going NE to/thru Chicago (0+ / 0-)

                        leaves ABQ about 12:30pm and arrives just after 3 the next day. The train to points east toward Boston leaves about 9:30pm, allowing enough time to go to a Chicago Deli and back to shop (or window shop) at Marshall Fields.

                        You arrive in Boston about 23 hours later.

                        It's a lovely trip.

                        But there are places in the States where "you can't get there from here" operates.

                        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                        by samddobermann on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 01:59:02 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Coulda, shoulda, woulda (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ozsea1, PsychoSavannah, Caniac41

                    You'll get no argument from me that we should have high-speed rail already. But the reality is that we don't.

                    So rather than crying over that particular glass of spilt milk, I'd rather focus on what we can do going forward.

                    And what we can do is begin planning and building a national high speed rail network, but also recognize the fact that it won't be up and running for some time.

                    In the short term, then, that means investing in the service we have — filling gaps in the network (resuming the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Orlando would be a good start), increasing the frequency of trains, and making infrastructure and operational improvements to allow higher speeds and better on-time performance.

                    I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

                    by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:11:26 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm quite aware of this (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      divineorder
                      But the reality is that we don't. So rather than crying over that particular glass of spilt milk, I'd rather focus on what we can do going forward.
                      What's wrong with educating readers about what other countries do, irt high-speed rail? Not only does the diarist do that, he urges us to contact our reps and senators as "action".  Unless I read it wrong, what this diary was attempting to do was provide a sort of a primer on different countries and how their high-speed rail works/looks, stacked up against our archaic, neglected systems of transportation.

                      I don't look at any of that as "crying over spilt milk", but to each his own, I guess.

                      You wouldn't see me disagreeing about your point made regarding this:

                      making infrastructure and operational improvements to allow higher speeds and better on-time performance.
                      But the reality is, we have a Congress who won't even do that for auto and truck traffic on our highways.

                      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                      by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:32:51 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Once the terrorists blow up a couple of (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jfdunphy, MrJersey, divineorder

                  high speed trains - and really, the tracks are equally if not more vulnerable to terrorism if that's the type of thing one is scared of - the TSA operation will simply shift from making air traffic miserable to making rail traffic the same way.

                  They've already started in fact, in some rather bizarre ways at that:  TSA searching families AFTER they get off the train.

                  •  That's the sort of threat (6+ / 0-)

                    we shouldn't keep hiding behind to avoid moving forward. How many terrorist attacks have their been on European train systems over the past 30 years? I think we vastly overestimate the risks of terrorism, most of which are due to the incompetence of the people who are supposed to be defending us from it, not the competence of terrorists. They got lucky on 9/11 because we got stupid.

                    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                    by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:38:27 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Our country is quite insane wrt terrorism (0+ / 0-)

                      for example, spending $1.2 trillion / year on "security" (justified by the fear of phantom terrorists) when the $$s could be much better spent on a whole host of other things

                      But my point was less that, than if the high speed rail was (miraculously enough) built, it'd soon be as unpleasant as air travel - so that particular comparison is not a very good justification for its construction to me.

                      •  I'm not as pessimistic as you (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        samddobermann

                        I think we've proven throughout our history that we can do things right, if the will is there. Our passenger rail system was the envy of the world for over a century. We can at least catch up and be as good as the rest of the world. I see no inherent reason for why it always has to suck here.

                        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                        by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:56:47 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  people in europe can afford to take their time (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann

              they get 4 to 6 weeks paid time off every year.

              but you're right about the miscellaneous time "add-ons" that come with the security and baggage infrastructure of air travel.

              about a year before 9/11, james fallows wrote an interesting article about how enormous progress is improved safety, lower manufacturing costs, and higher fuel efficiency meant that we were on the cusp of a revolution in short-hop air travel -- basically, the idea was that you'd be able to catch a small jet flight (between small, local airports) almost as easily as getting a taxi.

              9/11 put an end to that, forever.

              just one more of the never-calculated real economic costs of empire.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:27:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I agree with this, but dude. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tikkun

              Much of our rail system hasn't been upgraded since the 50s. It's falling apart. It sucks.

              and the reason you'd want it to be fast--last time I got on Amtrak--is that Amtrak is not an enjoyable travel experience at all, at all. And I like trains. But the food is disgusting and the seats uncomfortable, and the price is not low.

              Also there's lots and lots of places Amtrak does not go. In my own lifetime, the station I used to go to near my hometown closed. Now the closest I can get is 90 minutes away.

              Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

              by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:04:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  HELLOOOOO? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                divineorder

                That means it's wayyyyyy past time to build a dedicated rail that is capable of 200mph+ speeds.

                the secondary benefit of this?? Thousands of good paying jobs for architect, engineers, construction workers, truck drivers, etc.

                is this really ROCKET SCIENCE?

                "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

                by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:58:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah. I agree. What's up with the HELLOOOOO? (0+ / 0-)

                  kovie is mounting a campaign against the need for speed. I agree that our culture's obsession with speed is unhealthy. However, our rails need to be updated, have needed to be updated for decades. We can either be a country that has no passenger rail, or we can do a wholesale update of our rail system, and I would rather do the latter.

                  Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

                  by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:14:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  BECAUSE Soi Many People Here (0+ / 0-)

                    just don't get it.

                    either they are purposefully being obtuse and contrary-- like red staters, or they don't want to admit we don't have the kind of political leadership to fully support/fund advancing our infrastructure.

                    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

                    by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:53:35 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's not the leadership; it's (0+ / 0-)

                      the followership. We don't have enough demanding HSR and making it a campaign issue.

                      We have too many "I've got mine, fuck you" libertarians in office.

                      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                      by samddobermann on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:09:42 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  It is harder than rocket science (0+ / 0-)

                  because the infrastructure "interferes" with people's present "enjoyment/employment of their land — that is private property.

                  At least the atmosphere and stratosphere are not parceled out yet except I guess by country.

                  I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                  by samddobermann on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:06:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  To SouthernLib good post. :-) (0+ / 0-)

                You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

                by Democrats Ramshield on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:31:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  This isn't a question about rushing to anywhere, (4+ / 0-)

              but rather a transportation system that meets the needs of energy savings, reducing emissions via less cars on the road, accessibility for many to travel this country in a civilized manor, and yes, less time frittering away in overcrowded airports other time that also economically rob aspects of travel in this country.  What a wonderful thought if a family could travel within a very reason time (yes, "rush"), and within their budgetary constraints to get their destination together and having that quality time on board a clean and comfortable train with all of the amenities that one could ever want.  Why they might even interact with each other as a family: Now that's a benefit not mentioned, but worth it's weight in gold.  And let's not forget that awful thought of actually having to interface and meet other people!  

              O.M.G...  You mean talk to, and sit near "strangers"!!!!!  (snark)

              If you haven't traveled in the EU or in other countries with High Speed Transit, then you really do not understand that it isn't about the "rush" to get to places all of the time but other positive aspects that are important as well.  You have to travel on high speed trains a few times in your life to see and understand the "bigger picture".

              Oh, and on another note:  Ever try to park you rental car in downtown Rome, or Paris?  Ever try to drive in those cities?  Take the high speed trains there and connect to the regional and then to the locals trains there and then use the mass transit which is far superior than ours as well to get around those cities and you'll get the idea.  When we travel to Europe, specifically to Germany, we never rent a car and can get around the EU just fine and in what we Americans would consider top notch  first class travel quality.  The high speed trains and the stations we need to access are in the major airports (we typically fly into Frankfurt Germany International that has TWO train stations inside).  An EU multi train pass or a single country rail pass is far cheaper than renting a car in many cases, and far less frustrating in terms of getting around.  Grab a high speed train and and next stop for you could be Istanbul Turkey, or Venice, or Athens, or....??  

              It's a quality of life "thingie".  Others have  it, and we don't, and probably never will until we change our mindset about the ides of mass transportation, commit funding for it, and quit being so ignorant collectively as a country about our arrogance of superiority over those "other Socialist countries".  All I can say from extensive personal experience is:

              Deutsche Bahn DB:  Not for cattle anymore.

              “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

              by LamontCranston on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:26:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  What do you mean, what's the rush? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wednesday Bizzare, Yoshimi

              You cannot impose your values to promote a technology. Either it is better, faster, cheaper, or it won't be adopted. Telling people "relax" when they are upset or in a hurry is about the best way to put them off the edge.
              There are a few routes that make sense for high speed rail in the US where it could be more efficient, faster, more comfortable than air travel, such as a Boston to NYC to DC run (I usually take Amtrak for this anyway), SF to LA or Seattle. But you just can't efficiently put high-speed rail from SF to Denver to NYC or Chicago. It is just too time consuming and the route is too sparsely populated. Why should I spend half my vacation sitting on a train when I could be spending it with my family? It makes no sense, even if you think it would be better for me.

              "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

              by shmuelman on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:35:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The California Zephyr runs from (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LamontCranston, R30A

                San Francisco (Emeryville) to Chicago and has long been a popular trip; even the vacation in itself. There are some areas which you cannot see except by train or river. A lot of the trip is spectacular. Would high speed work? I don't know; this is a route to be savored.

                Why should I spend half my vacation sitting on a train when I could be spending it with my family?
                It is possible to go with your family — and even reconnect without the externality of everyday life.

                To me and many others the train ride is the vacation.

                I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                by samddobermann on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:48:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I've done a couple of multi-night trips (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann, LamontCranston

              My first big vacation with Mr. Scribe (well, technically he wasn't Mr. Scribe yet because we were still just dating) was a 2 week trip to Chicago, Toronto and Boston. Most of the trip was actually by train; 2 nights from Oakland to Chicago in a compartment, a day long trip across the border to Toronto, then we flew from Toronto to Boston because we would have had to make an overnight in Albany to take the train. I then flew back to the Bay Area while he went on to West Virginia for a rail fan event. You learn a lot about a person when you do a long trip like that...and you also get a far better idea of the vastness of this country.

              There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

              by Cali Scribe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:24:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Overnight sleeper trains. (4+ / 0-)

            Unlike a red-eye flight, traveling in a sleeper car is quite comfortable, saves a night's worth of hotel lodgings at your destination since you can arrive in the morning and be well-rested, and at the end of the day, you pretty much have the same amount of time at your destination, especially if you take an overnight train ride back.

            Crossing the country by plane is definitely more time efficient, but in a lot of cases where a train will get you there within 12 hours on an overnight trip, the train's far more efficient in both time usage and money, simply because you can actually sleep on them comfortably and therefore can make use of those 7-8 hours in a productive fashion without being exhausted when you arrive, bringing your waking travel time down to around the same as dealing with getting into and out of airports, flight delays, and what have you.

            Everyday Magic

            Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
            -- Clarke's Third Law

            by The Technomancer on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:00:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Door to door? (0+ / 0-)

            In most cases, the airport time tax eats up any advantage the plane travel time has.  You can keep your bags with you, get on a train, and walk out of one city center into another in less time than going to the airport, checking bags, flying, claiming your bags and taking a taxi or train to the next city center.

            "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

            by nightsweat on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:55:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  No, it's not (6+ / 0-)

          Along with the OP I also refuse to fly for philosophic reasons.  This has cost me hugely in alienation from family and friends but I just cannot accept the loss of rights inherent in air travel.  

          So, trip to Florida from New England.  Sure, one day down in a sleeper car.  Food has gone from great to total crap in a decade with no give a damn.  Train hit a turkey vulture in Florida and bound up in scraping the damned thing off the front of the train for three hours in Tampa.  Arrived five hours late, what's the rush though?

          Coming back.  Late departure puts the thing three hours back already.  Almost eight hours late to DC to change trains, no place safe to wait in a dark and gloomy station.  On a middle of the night drunk train in DC, threatened by fellow passenger (with wife and kid)…knife displayed.  All the drunks off in NYC and another three hour wait before departure.  It took an afternoon, a night, a day, a night, and a morning to go from Florida to New England at a cost of over 5 times the cheap flights.

          So here in the land of the free I'm a prisoner of my region since I don't drive long distance.  Even a four hour trip in the vaunted New England area is ridiculous expensive.  And there is no amount of anything that we can do about it…

          •  Points taken given the state of train travel (5+ / 0-)

            in the US today, which are largely if not entirely reflective of years of deliberate neglect on the part of the auto, oil and aviation industries through their mostly GOP political proxies, but with even a moderate investment in maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure, we could eliminate most if not all of these delays. And that's not taking in account the vast improvements that HSR would offer, in which you could travel from Miami to Bango in less than a day.

            Btw I've taken Amtrak cross-country three times, and while there were some delays and annoyances, it was mostly on-time, comfortable and enjoyable, and the food was quite decent. Three days from NY-SF or Seattle is not bad.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:30:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Take away the trillions of dollars in military (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NoMoreLies, Caniac41

              expenditures that subsidize air/auto travel by keeping open the flow of cheap fuel (ref: Iraq, 2003), and trains start to look more affordable and attractive.

              On the other hand, Amtrack cross-country in winter is a crapshoot. If they fall a half hour behind, they may end up sitting on a siding somewhere for 8 hours, waiting for a freight-train going the other direction to pass. 8 to 12 hour delays are not unusual -- and that affects everyone "downtrack". I once threw in the towel in Grand Forks, turned in my family's 5 tickets for a refund, and paid for a 500-mile one-way car rental to get us home on Christmas eve.

              The obvious answer, of course, is that we need twin tracks out there in the boonies -- or at least, sidings every 20 or 30 miles. (could be a bit of a problem in the rockies, mind you).

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:59:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I've ridden Amtrak a relatively short distance (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jay C

              from San Antonio to Oklahoma City - an 8+ hour car ride - that took 17 hours by train, much of the time sitting still on sidings while waiting for freight trains to utilize the rails and layover in Ft. Worth waiting for the connecting train to OKC.  By air the trip itself comprises about than 3 hours, maybe 3-1/2 depending on the layover in Dallas waiting on the connecting flight to OKC.  Neither of the public transportation times cited includes trip time to the station (terminal), parking, security, baggage retrieval or postponed departure time.

              "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

              by SueDe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:39:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  In the many trips on east west rail that I've take (0+ / 0-)

              Could never be described as "on time"" or comfortable.  Maybe they make up lost time in the Plains, but the trip from the East Coast to Ohio And back, is unbearable

              Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

              by tikkun on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:52:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And that is exactly why we need to modernize our (0+ / 0-)

                passenger train network.  You didn't ride high speed trains as the diary was about, but rather American antiquated rail with antiquated infrastructure.  If you have ever ridden a high speed train in another country, you might think differently.

                “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

                by LamontCranston on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:53:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  I've done that overnight trip. (6+ / 0-)

          Philadelphia to Delray Beach round trip for my niece's wedding a few years ago. It's not so bad. But it sure would be nice if it were quicker. Train travel to New Mexico or Oregon would more palatable if not two or three overnights long, as it is now. Like lunachickie, I don't fly anymore. Lots of people don't. Amtrak gets crowded.

          curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

          by asterkitty on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:05:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm all for better and faster trains (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            asterkitty, Jay C, samddobermann

            But even today's creaky system is often better or competitive with flying.

            I'm in NYC, and if I'm going to DC, Boston or even Pittsburgh I'm either driving or taking the train. Hell, even Chicago if I don't have to be there in hours.

            But yeah, for most people, I understand why FL-NY isn't something they'd want to do regularly by train. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Attitudes towards train travel have to improve, as does train travel itself.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:18:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Frankly I prefer an overnight train ride (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann, kovie

          That saves me 1 night of hotel.  It's not like I am doing anything while I am asleep. Might as well have the train/bus multi-task for me.

        •  I used to choose to go by train from my University (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie

          in Chicago to my parents in Miami Florida in the 50s. It was 23 relaxing hours with a lovely dining car and fun lounge car and a chance to decompress and switch gears.

          Had two New Year's eve celebrations when we crossed time zones a little after midnight ET.  (I choose that date for travel on purpose.)

          I love the trains. It's good to slow down and the trip can be a part of the vacation.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 01:39:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You can take a private jet to avoid TSA (20+ / 0-)

        That is what the 1% does, forget about 1st class.

        Clearing Skies for Private Jets

        50% of all private jets are sold in America.

        Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

        by Shockwave on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:38:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, that too! (4+ / 0-)

          Good point. Can't have those old, creaky public planes in the air, taking up all their precious, private Learjet space.

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:44:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Have they not thought this through? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, lunachickie, dewtx, blue in NC

          If private planes and their passengers don't have to go through the same security checks, what's to stop a terrorist group from using them?

          They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

          by CharlieHipHop on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:01:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Most of the people that are using those planes (13+ / 0-)

            now are, effectively, terrorists. And they have free rein of our country's halls of power.

            Economic terrorists. Quality-of-life terrorists. Environmental terrorists. They are the scum that has floated to the top of the American social system, and that scum needs to be skimmed off and flushed away.

            I know that's not exactly the sort of "terrorist group" you were referring to, but in reality the 0.01-percenters are a far worse threat to our nation than all the so-called "real" ter'rists in the world.

            "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

            by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:00:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Like I've said before: It's good to be a "king".. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blue in NC

              You are correct:  The uber wealthy have no limits or constraints in their lives as they can go and do anything they want to, anytime.  They have no allegiance to an country or government, only to the almighty $ in the stashed bank accounts.  Why should they care if the others have any quality of life even in the terms of decent, non cattle car transportation?

              “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

              by LamontCranston on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:21:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  They are simply too powerful for anyone to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            reflectionsv37

            question -- just like Holder's testimony to Congress about banks and bankers. He wasn't asked about everyone who Justice wouldn't go after, but there are a large number of people whose power and money give them an entirely different society and existence. No one questions them because they are unquestionable.

            Why don't terrorists use this access?  It is an insiders' club. There aren't many openly murderous billionaires. ... (but)...

            Although there's nothing to say that wealthy Saudi's jets might not be used to that effect, once the USA gains some independence from Saudi oil.  If we ever get to the point where the US military is not needed to protect Saudi Arabia or where they don't care about the market for their oil in the USA, it might be a whole different game.

            Where did Bin Laden come from? His funding? The US government doesn't like to talk about that. We still commit US blood and money to defend Saudi Arabia, despite their State-supported radical fundamentalist religion.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:57:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  what Florida really needs is a good STATEWIDE (12+ / 0-)

        rail system.  You would think that a heavily tourist-dependent economy like Florida would be eager to build a good transportation system to allow tourists (and also we locals who gave up our cars) to easily move between one Florida city and another. And you would be wrong. If you don't have a car (or don't want to rent one) there is simply no good way to make day trips within Florida (from Disney to the Space Center to Tampa Bay to the Keys or whatever).

        There WAS a plan to build such a system, and our idiot governor axed it because COMMUNISM !!!!

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:02:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it sure does (5+ / 0-)

          the whole country needs it. But yes, particularly in heavily-tourist-dependent areas like Florida, which is visited by so many Europeans regularly. When I lived and worked in Orlando, that was a regular question I got from tourists--"where is the train station? Don't you have fast rail here?" If they want to get around unfettered, they've got to rent a car.

          So now you've got tourists on your roads in cars, and probably half of them own cars back home, with steering wheels on "the passenger side" and they've never driven a car like we use here. Good times....

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:11:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Only the UK and its former colonies drive on the (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lunachickie, dewtx, Jay C

            right. The rest of Europe uses cars with the steering wheel on the same side as ours so it's not hard for a French or German tourist to drive a car here.

            I've also driven in England and Scotland. It takes a little getting used to, but by the second or third day it becomes much easier.

            But I agree it would be so much better to have high speed rail connecting Orlando with Miami or Tampa with the Keys.

            •  Good to know! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Woody, dewtx
              Only the UK and its former colonies drive on the right. The rest of Europe uses cars with the steering wheel on the same side as ours so it's not hard for a French or German tourist to drive a car here.
              Tell you what, though--I don't know if it's still true, but we had a lot of UK tourists coming through central FL when I lived there (this is roughly ten years ago now, not sure if it's still the case today). And man, that first day of "driving on the left" for them is a lulu, lolz! I've seen it up close and personal (I worked car rentals for awhile). Oy! There was one season when I distinctly remember saying to myself "Holy crap, I'll never bitch about snowbirds' driving, ever again!" ;)

              This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

              by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:31:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  but it's the same for Americans who go there (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lunachickie

                My first couple of days in London I almost got run over a couples crossing the street, because I kept looking in the wrong direction for the traffic. Same in Johannesburg. (But then, people in South Africa all drive like maniacs anyway--jeebus, they apparently think traffic laws are just suggestions, or something.)

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:30:24 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'll bet! (0+ / 0-)
                  it's the same for Americans who go there
                  Speaking for myself, I can't imagine not having a hard time getting used to any of it, whether I was walking or driving. And at this point in my life, I'll probably never get an opportunity to turn down the chance to try it anyway--which is perfectly fine with me ;))

                  This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                  by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:37:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  When was Japan a UK colony? (0+ / 0-)

              Japan drives on the left like the UK.  It's false to claim that only the UK and its former colonies drive on the right.

            •  Japan drives on the left. n/t (0+ / 0-)

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:59:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Why bother to build rail in Florida when in 50 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dewtx, samddobermann

            years or so, global climate change will make the sea levels rise to the point that half of it will be underwater.  

            And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

            by MrJersey on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:55:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sad, but true. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewtx

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:01:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Because that's no reason (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ozsea1

              to give up on anything.

              Seriously?

              This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

              by lunachickie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:34:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  well, because half of it won't be :) /nt (0+ / 0-)

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:30:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Design them so they will be watertight? Disney (0+ / 0-)

              just love that ride venue.  (snark)

              “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

              by LamontCranston on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:23:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  there have been rumors that Disney is part of the (0+ / 0-)

                reason why the proposed rail network was killed. Disney is pretty well-known for wanting tourists to come to Disney property and STAY there, not going anywhere else--they built their "Living Seas" section specifically so people wouldn't leave for Sea World, and built Animal Kingdom so people wouldn't go to Busch Gardens in Tampa.  The theory is that Disney doesn't WANT other areas of Florida to be easily accessible to its guests--it wants its guests to stay right where they are.

                True?  Not true?  Who knows.

                Disney generally gets whatever it wants in Florida, though, so one could presume that if Disney had really wanted the rail system and was willing to push for it, we'd have it.

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:33:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Some people don't want to drive on holiday... (0+ / 0-)

          ...and then there are Brits like myself growing up and living in cities and countries with decent transit, who simply never bothered to learn.

          I've taken Amtrak all over the States, and been driven by friends to more remote corners, and some not so remote, and I feel more constrained by myself than I would do in countries.

          This is sad because this sort of thing drives travel choices, and I love the US but other places are just easier. I don't really want to rely on the kindness of an old Union Pacific guy (after a call to a friend) to flag down the LA to Chicago train in the middle of MO. The middle of nowhere by Amtrak standards, but a place that elsewhere would have a station.

          I'll admit it was nice to be welcomed on board by the guard with my backpack as other passengers looked on with curiosity at how I'd managed to swing it!

      •  Has anybody done energy studies? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lunachickie, ozsea1

        My guess is that planes are more energy-intensive than any form of travel except a couple people alone in an SUV, but I don't know.

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:01:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This really isn't necessarily true (4+ / 0-)
        Flight is the only high-speed option in this country. That's the only real reason it's still utilized the most.
        I live in Europe.  Despite the availability of HSR where I live (and in most of Europe) MANY Europeans still prefer to fly for medium to long distance trips, mainly because with disounters like Ryan Air it's significantly cheaper than HSR, and even when you take into account airport secutriy, etc...it's still usually faster.  In the US, when you can fly between the West and East coast for under 500.00 and 5 hours, it is going to be hard to convince Americans, who love their cars anyway, to use HSR, which would most certainly be at least as expensive (and probably more) and take longer for transcontinental trips.

        I'm not saying I don't support HSR in the US.  I do, very much. I love train travel, do it all the time and feel by far it's the best way to travel. Anyone who has ever enjoyed even coach class on HSR compared to being packed like a sardine into an airliner knows that I'm talking about. But I think it's a little simple to conclude that what works here in Europe will necessarily be embraced by Americans. And make no mistake, even many countries in Europe (especially the UK)  are struggling to make the economics of rail travel work these days.

        Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

        by Pi Li on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:34:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But the days of (0+ / 0-)

          $500 coast to coast flights are going to come to an end - because of Airline mergers and fewer flights going to some of these cities.  During this ridiculous winter weather - so many flights were cancelled or delayed and some people spent 4 or 5 days waiting to get onto a flight.  Flights are more and more crowded with fewer and fewer 'discounted' seats.  Add in the harder to use FF miles and it will be harder to fly.  

          We are way past the time of HSR in the US - And I blame our plutocrats and the government they bought for the backwards nature of our country.

          Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

          by Caniac41 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:40:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, Ryan air is cheap, but what is putting the (0+ / 0-)

          economic pressure on them to be so inexpensive?  Maybe another form of high speed transportation?  Many Europeans enjoy their relaxed time on trains and don't care to have to get to somewhere fast all of the time as the train trip is part of the vacation.  

          And no, when you take into account the entire aspect of traveling by air in this country from having to purchase products that can go on planes, to waits in the airport, to the TSA time lags, to the connecting flights, you then get a real sense of just what wasted time there in air flight in this country.  It's also how you view what your time is worth in having to accommodate the entire aspect of flying.  Besides, air flight in this country isn't as cheap as it was a year ago, and will not get any less in financial cost to you or me in the future as well.

          And I don't know about your flight times or what aircraft you flew on between the east and west coast, but it's longer than 5 hours to fly from Newark to San Francisco than 5 hours.  I was a "road warrior" for my profession for over 6 years and had to fly on at least four flights a week, for nearly 45 weeks a year, and you can't fly that fast between the coasts.  Talk about wasted time in life....  Looking back, the money wasn't worth the time I wasted from my life.

          “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

          by LamontCranston on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:56:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  We have torn up most of our rr lines in the (5+ / 0-)

      interior and often given their rights away.  It will be very expensive to get them back again.  I have wondered since seeing this if it is really possible.

      Much of the story of the west was how towns grew or failed over the coming of  the rr.

      •  The costs are utterly irrelevant (23+ / 0-)

        We obsess too much over how much things "cost" in the US, when "cost" is really an artificial construct at the national and government level. We can always find the money and we always end up paying for it and making a profit in the end. ALWAYS. (Or else how to explain the post-WWII boom despite our having incurred such a massive debt before and during it?)

        Money is never really lost or gained. It's just reallocated, preferably wisely, being a human construct. And investing heavily in rail would be incredibly wise.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:48:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bill Moyers (23+ / 0-)

          has had  this to say recently, in an article calling for a debt cancellation jubilee for student loans:

          For the money spent so far on the ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we could provide completely free public higher education at every single two- and four-year school in the country — for the next 52 years.

          As you say, when you get into the question of hundreds of billions of dollars, cost is an abstraction, an empty signifier that can be justified or not justified, depending upon what kinds of ideas and emotional button-pushing are put to work on its behalf.

          When it comes to public investment, we've lived since the 1980s under the specter of a taciturn, bean-counting philosophy of austerity that claims that any new investments in social programs, infrastructure, or the public commons will incur deficit spending, sending us hurtling towards default.

          In the meantime, we've happily spent untold billions on the war in Iraq, even though these are the same billions that we said couldn't be spent on so many other things. If we had simply set alight hundreds of millions of dollars, like the Joker in the Dark Knight, we would actually be better off than we are now, post-Iraq... because at least we wouldn't have spent that money on a decade-long catastrophe.

          But, regardless, we live in a world where investing in high-speed rail is a sign of creeping socialism -- no matter how many lives would be improved by it -- but waging a war of choice against a sovereign nation is a healthy investment in getting our groove back.

          Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

          by Dale on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:18:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If you want a real throw-up-in-your mouth (8+ / 0-)

            moment, take a look some time at the calculations people have periodically done on the cost of the first world war, and compare those to the estimates of the cost of the Iraq war.

            Typical direct financial cost of WWI is typically indicated as 185 billion dollars. They don't say whether those are 1914 or 1918 dollars, which only matters because a 1918 dollar is equal to about $1.50 1914.

            The bottom line is that World War I cost somewhere between 3 and 4 trillion 2012 dollars. The direct cost of the Iraq war is somewhere north of 1 trillion, though they will of course never tell us the real price tag.

            I've never seen a meaningful estimate of the "indirect" costs of WWI -- eg, rebuilding homes and factories, or taking care of millions of wounded soldiers, some whom spent the rest of their lives in hospitals like Deer Lodge in Winnipeg (they were still there when I was a kid in the 60s/70s). Estimates of the indirect costs of the Iraq war range as high as 4 to 5 trillion, suggesting that the indirect costs of WW I would have to be in the staggering range of 20 to 50 trillion dollars (many more wounded soldiers, but medical care much less expensive relative to other goods/services), or more.r

            I did find an interesting article that outlines the difficulties of trying to do these estimations, nevermind trying to do war-to-war comparisons, but the bottom line is pretty straightforward:

            A. The Iraq war has been unbelievably expensive, considering its limited scope, when compared to conflagrations of much greater scale in the past.

            B. Even so, the First World War cost so much that we can't even really conceive of the full price paid in human wellbeing.

            C. Whether it's 1914 or 2003, we can see from what gets spent on war that everything the plutocrats tell us about what we can't afford for the benefit of ourselves, our children, and our society, is a criminal lie.

            We can have "free", equally-available health care. We can have "free" equally-available mass transportation. We can have "free" equally-available education.

            We can have all of these. The economic capacity has always been there. All we need to do is take the aircraft carrier keys away from the plutocrats, and apply confiscatory taxation rates to income, "earned" or other.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:37:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The First World War (7+ / 0-)

              was a truly shattering event in world history; its impact on the generations that followed was nothing short of traumatic. It brutally punctured an entire century's worth of romantic, chivalrous values, as manifested in the imperial bellicosity of the military establishment; it laid the groundwork for the gradual disintegration of Germany under the pressures of hyperinflation and political extremism during the Weimar Republic; it introduced horrible new technologies of mass carnage, along with horrible new experiences of psychological trauma (what they called "shellshock," we call PTSD); and it gave the successive generation, coming of age in the late teens early twenties, the sense that utopian thinking or long-term planning of any kind was a sucker's game, and that you needed to get what you could for yourself, before it was too late.

              The stock market bubble of the Jazz Age was in part the result of a rejection of any kind of longer-term moral or ethical commitment to community and the collective welfare, and the bill, when it came due, was the collective social catastrophe of the Great Depression.

              Not to mention that conditions in the trenches were, if I recall correctly, partly responsible for the rapid spread of the influenza epidemic of the late teens -- itself massively devastating to weakened post-war societies.

              In any case, I've always been fascinated with WW1, for precisely the reasons of elite hubris that you allude to here. Just because every nation in Europe was locked into a set of treaty commitments at the end of the 19th century, and just because the prevailing establishment -- despite opposition among ordinary people -- was invested in a romantic and delusional conception of valor, Europe was pressed into one of the most catastrophic events in human history.

              Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

              by Dale on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:45:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  The argument against public investment (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jay C

            has ranged further from claiming that any new investments will incur deficit spending hurtling us toward default.  Very serious people, economists and investors insist that public spending competes with private investment for available funds, thereby taking that money away from the private investment market, thereby threatening the very idea of capitalism itself.  This is an argument that is misunderstood (at best) by ordinary folks who aren't investors anyway (not to mention the economists who should know better but continue to spread such zero-sum thinking), so it's much easier to influence the commoners by claiming deficit/debt ruin.  Ordinary folks understand deficit/debt fears and ruin very well, at least on a individual and family level.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:53:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Which private investment? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              yoduuuh do or do not, Caniac41

              I still can't get access to investment funds.  Oh! You ment for the one percent!

              Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

              by tikkun on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:12:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Very serious people? (0+ / 0-)

              Oh, you mean paid propagandists?

              No serious economic believes that prudent infrastructure-incurred debts and deficits can cause the US to default (which btw it never has despite incurring such debts and deficits repeatedly, often for far less useful and prudent things like wars of choice and massive military expansion).

              That is simply a lie, that is believed by the ignorant and foolish.

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:30:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not talking about default. (0+ / 0-)

                I'm talking about arguing against public investment because that money could and should be used for private investment.  What the government borrows can not be borrowed by private investors - that's what some economists are arguing.  And it would be true if demand were high and business investors needed the money to expand their businesses.  But they don't - businesses aren't expanding, because there is not enough demand to warrant expansion.

                "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

                by SueDe on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:38:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's just a different way of saying the same thing (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  SueDe

                  Namely that money is finite, or at least more limited that it seems, and that government spending, which is always debt-based, limits private investment, hurting the economy, leading to lower tax revenues, leading to default. There is absolutely no evidence that this has ever happened here. It's just another bullshit argument against government spending given by ideologues and shills.

                  The former are idiots and the latter creeps. To believe in something blindly whether or not it makes sense is idiotic, and to lie for a living is despicable.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 06:10:36 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "Crowding out" - that is, the government using (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kovie

                    so much money that private investment is crowded out of financial markets - is a real phenomenon, but that happens only when the economy is operating at near or full capacity.  That's a long way from where we are now, but that doesn't stop true believers, even educated ones, from making the argument today.  The economy's really troubling deficit right now is in demand.  People don't have enough money to spend on anything but necessities.

                    Carrying any argument from true believers to its logical conclusion such as you've done in your reply can always be shown to be disastrous  if done at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.  Not that your reasoning is wrong - it isn't.  It is, in fact, right on the money; it's just not being presented correctly and at the right time by people who should know better.

                    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

                    by SueDe on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 04:58:33 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  But when the economy is at or near full capacity (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      SueDe

                      and there isn't enough money in circulation to do the things that government needs to do, there's only one things to do--PRINT MORE MONEY! Which btw wouldn't cause inflation because it would simply match and meet the monetary needs of an expanding economy. A shortage of money is not something we need to worry about now. A shortage of honesty, courage and decency is.

                      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                      by kovie on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 06:24:25 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Printing more money (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        kovie

                        when the economy is at or near full capacity would indeed increase inflation, but that's not anywhere near the problem the country is currently facing.  And it's extremely irritating that some of what are considered the best economic minds in the country are still making such an argument relative to the country's current problem in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

                        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

                        by SueDe on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:51:31 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  They're just protecting the people (0+ / 0-)

                          who endowed their chairs at various prestigious schools. They know who their sugar daddies are and how they expect to be treated. I wonder if Krugman left Princeton because he was sick of that game. If anything it's even more snobby and aristocratic than Harvard and Yale. The thing about today's conservatives isn't that they fear socialism or "moral hazards", as they abundantly benefit from the former and ooze the latter. It's that they need to preserve the illusion that they're special and better than everyone else (because without that their money is meaningless to them). With the country running at peak efficiency and most people doing ok, it's harder to maintain that illusion, as was the case from the 50's-70's. Ultimately, it's all about pecking orders.

                          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                          by kovie on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:15:01 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  Actually cost is very relevant (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yoshimi

          Says California.  We are willing to dump in a lot of money but what is really killing our HSR is the cost.  Even with infusions, the cost is extremely prohibitive.

          "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

          by Sychotic1 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:09:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  At the state level, sure (0+ / 0-)

            given those moronic balanced budget laws that cripple state economies. But at the federal level, where no such craziness exists and where we can borrow or print as much money (that just happens to be the world reserve currency) as we want and if invested wisely will more than pay for itself over time including interest and inflation, then no, it's not a problem. Never was and never will be.

            Just look at the history of federal investment in infrastructure and how it was paid for. Always through massive debt, always paid for itself over time.

            Which is why this is a federal issue, financially, but obviously also otherwise, since transportation is a national issue.

            Do not believe those RW lies about crushing debt and deficits.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:28:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I think America is paying for that mistake. (8+ / 0-)

        Air travel, in many cases, is nothing more than a bus on wheels, and about as comfortable, but more expensive.   We still have a large commercial rail system for moving raw materials and goods.

        We not only have to rebuild the rails, we need to get travellers back on those rails as well. I do believe it is possible, but people have to stop believing the lie that trains, especially high speed transit, are for the elite and pols like Joe Biden.

        •  Want to get travellers back on those rails? (7+ / 0-)

          Easy.

          Tax the rich, and subsidize the train tickets to the tune of 90%. If it costs $10 to take the train from Chicago to Minneapolis, people are going to take the train from Chicago to Minneapolis -- especially if there are 10 trains per day from Chicago to Minneapolis.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:40:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Funny thing that. Horrible travel that bus. Then (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kirnerpilstime

          buses are part of that integrated system in Europe I've mentioned elsewhere. I remember with great pleasure a Bus ride from Spain to Portugal years ago when the schedule and route were much preferable even to rail. On line ticket purchase, comfortable high deck with reclining seats equal to business class airline seats of the time and, huh, snack and drink service as we cruised over the highways and wound through towns. Yep, very relaxed trip, lots of sights, good music or movies on the bus' system and time to nap during a long samey stretch. Stop at a rural sort of "truck stop" except it had a very good little Portuguese restaurant among the usual truck stop stuff. I'd probably hunt that one down if renting a car in the area.

          Some of the intercity buses I've taken there have been true pleasures watching the country in comfort. Not always the kind of rather shoddy thing as here, certainly not on many of the intercity expresses. Want to check schedules? Here is Renex and there are others out in isolated Portugal.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 11:28:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  High speed rail would most likely ... (23+ / 0-)

        Be built along interstate highway rights of way. That was certainly the proposal Rock Scott killed in Florida.

        Amtrak, contrary to the diarist, isn't "1950s" technology. The locomotives and rail cars themselves are modern and capable of 100+ mph. Acela is capable of higher speeds.

        Where we're stuck in the 50s is with our rail network, infrastructure and operating procedures. The freight railroads hamstring Amtrak at every opportunity. The tracks on many passenger routes are in bad shape.

        If we double-tracked and upgraded all Amtrak lines and put in place operating rules that gave Amtrak trains priority over freight, average speeds and on-time performance would be greatly improved.

        As high-speed corridors are built along Interstates, conventional trains operated by Amtrak (under whose umbrella a national high-speed network could operate) could still provide regional service to feed into the hubs served by high-speed trains.

        What's needed is a comprehensive national rail strategy. Some rail lines are never coming back. But a combination of buses, light rail, conventional rail and high-speed rail is doable.

        Even with all it's deficiencies, Amtrak ridership continues to grow each year. Imagine how ridership would explode if we had a cohesive, efficient and high-quality rail network.

        I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

        by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:52:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OBamOcala I aggree with about half of your post. (11+ / 0-)

           Acela is capable of higher speeds. Having said that obviously our readers would appreciate being able to read links that you might give in support of your position as would I. As this would certainly add value to the discussion. As you know Acela is criticized as not being true hi-speed rail and in extraordinarily limited service amounting to a fraction of less than 1% of all rail in America, where even if the technologies is not 1950's its speeds generally are moving at 1950's speeds, because as you say the tracks don't support higher speeds, and that is where the real investment comes in. That is also where a lot of green jobs that cannot be outsourced that are high wage jobs would be created.

          My sense is you do support a true national hi-speed American rail network. If that is so, then I certainly want to thank you for your support of this very important issue, even though you didn't rec this diary and don't seem to support what we are trying to do here fully.

          You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

          by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:04:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oops. I always forget to tip & rec (6+ / 0-)

            Done!

            I'll work on getting links to support my position. A lot of it comes from conversations I had back in 2003 with former Amtrak President David Gunn and Ross Capon of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (of which I'm a member).

            I did a series of stories for the Lake City [FL] Reporter newspaper (unfortunately, the story's not archived on line) on Amtrak in general and the much-maligned Sunset Limited in particular. Back then, of course, the Sunset served Lake City and other cities in Florida, linking us to the west coast via New Orleans.

            I've been riding Amtrak since 1978, and am a strong supporter of it and of high-speed rail, as my sig line shows. And I disagree, BTW, with the commenter who said the Tampa-Orlando HSR line would have been a disaster.

            I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

            by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:31:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Here's a start ... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blue in NC, side pocket, tikkun, ozsea1

            NARP's 2013 report on making Amtrak's current long-distance routes more effective.

            I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

            by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:43:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  oooooooh! ONE HUNDRED MILES AN HOUR!!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buddabelly

          !!!

          don't always believe what you think

          by claude on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:42:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You are right. As part of transportation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yoshimi

          I find that the moment you have to deal with an existing railroad, things get horrible and sticky and freight always takes precedence.  This is why Amtrak has had terrible on time statistics, because if a freight is coming through, the passengers have to wait.

          "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

          by Sychotic1 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:12:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, there's another problem. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dale

        NIMBY "leftists" who were promoting "rails to trails" programs all over the country.  They actually assisted in the demise of the rails.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:31:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you forgot yr snark tag, Corvo. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gulfgal98, CharlieHipHop, Sychotic1

          Rails were long-dead before "rails-to-trails" came along.

          don't always believe what you think

          by claude on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:59:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, except that now (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Medium Head Boy

            they can't even be rebuilt as upgraded rail lines without a lengthy and tedious eminent-domain buyout.

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:00:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'd reckon 90% of more of the rail lines converted (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gulfgal98, Wednesday Bizzare

              to bike paths were lines never capable of handling high speed trains in the first place.

              Hell, probably 100%

              So get off you high horse about blaming NIMBY leftists for promoting and assuring another positive social aspect to the areas where these new bike lanes now exist.

              Nothing like trying to turn a win into a defeat.


              "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

              by Pescadero Bill on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:21:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You Realize State and Local Governments (0+ / 0-)

              have these things called easements and right of ways all over the place, right?

              and the law states nothing gets built in these easements without permission.

              the notion we "don't have space now" for high speed rail is nonsense.

              cities? nearly all of them have slum areas, empty storefronts where NO business is ever going to return. eminent domain for those areas.

              "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

              by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:10:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  incidentially this was the argument (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sychotic1, Yoshimi

                that got many cities carved up for 8-lane expressways

                cities? nearly all of them have slum areas, empty storefronts where NO business is ever going to return. eminent domain for those areas.
                people still do live there...but these days they have far more tools to stop their neighborhoods from being carved up.

                Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

                by terrypinder on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:36:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And... I'm Guessing (0+ / 0-)

                  these very same cities do not at this time want their 8-lane expressways to go away.

                  why not? because these expressways carry people into their cities to spend money. the same applies to high speed rail.

                  "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

                  by Superpole on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:22:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  you'd be surprised at how many cities (0+ / 0-)

                    would like to rid themselves of their 8 lane expressways (or at least cover them over so they can reconnect neighborhoods) but can't for lack of funds, and the Big Dig (which did just that in Boston) kind of soured government on that.

                    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

                    by terrypinder on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 04:47:03 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  You act as if immenent Domain is easy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Yoshimi

                and it is NOT.  You have to do the least public harm for the most public good.  You have to go property by property and it is quite a lengthy process.

                "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

                by Sychotic1 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:14:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  in fairness, most of the rails-to-trails were (6+ / 0-)

          done to tracks that were already scheduled to be removed.

          The choice wasn't between "bike trails" and "functioning passenger rails"---it was between "bike trails" and "abandoned trackways".

          If the tracks are going to rust uselessly anyhow, I see no point in NOT putting something useful there (like a bike trail).

          Here in St Pete, the bike trail (built partially on old track-beds) now allows people to bike from one end of the county to the other with minimal traffic, much faster and safer than they could on the streets. For some, it's their major mode of transportation (it's not for me anymore since I was forced to move to a location that is further away from the trail).

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:11:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and as some of us knew then, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jay C
            The choice wasn't between "bike trails" and "functioning passenger rails"---it was between "bike trails" and "abandoned trackways"
            that was a false choice.  But it made the well-off sub- and exurbanites happy, which is what mattered . . . right?

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:03:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's true. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, tikkun, Sychotic1

          Just get James Howard Kunstler -- a strong rail advocate -- going on the subject of the High Line in NYC.

          To be sure, the High Line project has taken what had become a neglected industrial backwater (separated from the railway system south of 34th street for over thirty years) and integrated it into the vibrant aesthetic life of the city.

          All the same, Kunstler saw this project as a symbol of everything that was wrong with the country, a kind of chic defeatism in which providing hipsters with scenic promenades was deemed more important than providing needed infrastructure.

          I don't think that Kunstler is entirely accurate here -- the severing of the West Side Line from the NY railway system did not, in the long term, deprive New Yorkers of access to rail travel, and it works better as a park than as industrial detritus -- but at the level of symbolism, you can see why he gets upset.  

          Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

          by Dale on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:32:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  My experience with rails to trails (4+ / 0-)

          in three different areas was that the conversions occurred after decades of abandonment, including the removal of the tracks themselves and in some cases, the abandonment of the right of way to adjoining property owners.  I live in Tallahassee where the first rails to trails conversion in the state of Florida occurred and I rode that trail on the day it opened.

          The line upon which the rails to trails conversion occurred was a line between Tallahassee and St. Marks. The rail line was originally built to help ship goods from the old port near St. Marks but both the port and the rail had long been abandoned. It is sixteen miles long and basically a rail line to no where. I wrote a diary about it a couple of years ago.

          What I am saying is that my personal anecdotal experience with rails to trails conversions have been where there is a very low probability of the rail line being used again in the near future.  That may not be the case in other areas in which old railway beds have been converted to recreational uses, but I think that we should be careful in claiming that one newer recreational use had led to the demise of its previous use as a railway line.

          If this country ever moves to high speed rail, we will find places to install it and many of them may not even be along old railroad beds.  I think great example of a future rail right of way was when high speed rail was proposed to be placed in the interstate median from Tampa to Orlando in Florida. That line was basically shovel ready and all matching financing was guaranteed by private consortium when Rick Scott axed the deal. IMHO, the lack of right of way will probably be the least of the barriers to high speed rail in the US.

          "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

          by gulfgal98 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:03:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  But amortized properly, rail travel IS more (10+ / 0-)

      economical than plane travel. This is about politics and market manipulation by entrenched interests, not what makes sense economically. And I'm a fan of aviation AND trains, but plane travel has got to mostly go, except for long haul and overseas. Any trip under 800 miles should be by rail someday.

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:42:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I might agree with you at 500 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yoshimi

        That gets you Pittsburgh to Chicago.

        •  HSR makes it closer to 800 (0+ / 0-)

          But at more like maglev speeds. If we can get trains going at 300mph, it's a whole new world of travel. NY-Chicago would be faster door-to-door than flying, once you factor in all the overhead of flying.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:07:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If there are no stops between both cities. (0+ / 0-)

            Not gonna happen.

            •  Um... (0+ / 0-)

              Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati...

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 11:50:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks for reiterating my point. (0+ / 0-)
              •  Kovie, I'll make it simple for you :) (0+ / 0-)

                How much time should the train spend in each of those cities to board everyone and their baggage? A half hour for each stop?

                7 stops x 30 minutes = +210 minutes. You've just added almost four hours to your trip just for stops. Now add in the speed reductions going in and out of the cities and you do not have a very quick trip from New York to Chicago.

                But if someone were flying between the two cities, you have 1 hour at the airport, 3 hours in the air, and another hour in the airport. This is 5 hours total.

                 

                •  30 minutes is only for a handful of hub cities (0+ / 0-)

                  like Chicago, NY or Denver. I've looked at enough train schedules and ridden enough trains to know that the usual stop is between 3-7 minutes. Are you suggesting that European HSR trains operate according to different realities?

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:14:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  and I am totally for HSR (0+ / 0-)

                and have actually done feasibility studies for them. My point is that a string of cities connected by HSR is impractical. The only way to get the speeds you want is if you do a direct trip from New York to Chicago without any stops.

                To keep the speeds high for HSR, it should only hit the major hubs - NY, Chicago, and LA. Everything else should be a regional train.

                •  Stopping for 5-10 minutes in, say, Pittsburgh (0+ / 0-)

                  and Cleveland would not meaningfully delay a NY-Chicago HSR run. And I'm just throwing out possible runs. The experts know what connections would make the most sense. Plus many would likely not be through trains, for secondary cities. E.g. you'd take 1 HSR from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, then another to Chicago. It can be done, I'm sure.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:17:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm an expert. I did a study from Detroit (0+ / 0-)

                    to Chicago for a client in Italy.

                    Too many stops bog down HSR.

                    •  Then don't stop as much or for as long (0+ / 0-)

                      Problem solved. If you can't get yourself and your damn bags on the train in 5 minutes then maybe you should stay home with your 12 cats. I'm not a big fan of sloth or inefficiency. In any case, most HSR routes would be point to point, from 100 to 500 miles, like NY-DC or Chicago-St. Louis. For longer trips you'd have to connect, or there would be express lines with few if any stops, and those would be very brief. This can be worked out.

                      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                      by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:38:30 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm afraid that rail travel (5+ / 0-)

      will never return to the United States.  Nobody will pay for the infrastructure: in Europe the rails were all constructed by public entities; in the USA, virtually all of them are private/corporate, always were, always will be, and they're not going to build new ones without huge injections of public cash that, well, in our libertarian dystopia will never materialize.

      Add to that the fact that our intercity distances are too great to make high-speed long-distance rail even remotely profitable.  (It isn't profitable in Europe either: as a public good, it loses money and is expected to lose money, but what doesn't line the pockets of plutocrats here is, well, unthinkable and absurd.)

      Nope, when guzzolene and other nonrenewables get really expensive, long-distance transit will simply collapse, and with that the Republic.  Bye bye.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:30:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  as an aside, it was this difference between the US (5+ / 0-)

        and Europe that actually led to the appearance of the big corporation as we know it today. Building a national railroad network (particularly in such a huge expansively-open area as the US) is an enormously expensive and complicated undertaking, and accomplishing the task requires the resources of either a government or an entity with the size and power of a government. In Europe, it was done by national governments.  In the US, it forced the appearance of national railroad companies, who then became the model for every mega-corporation that followed.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:15:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As I've said many times before, our government's (9+ / 0-)

        profligate behavior proves that the public money for HSR is there.

        Just the $2 trillion flushed down the toilet on the 'Murkin imperialist ventures into Iraq and Afghanistan could have paid for a very significant start on HSR in the United States, and, as a bonus, would have killed neither as many American soldiers nor as many furrin' civilians.

        The money's there. Unfortunately, so is the corruption. We must take our country back from the lying, parasitic plutocracy (of which the Military-Industrial Complex is a huge component).

        "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

        by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:08:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, precisely. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue in NC

          Of course, that will be the Mother of Uphill Battles.  Hell, we can't even win that one on this site . . .

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:18:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Shhhhh. Don't remind me. Now I'm depressed (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo, Wednesday Bizzare

            again, after getting cheered up reading about HSR and listening to Kraftwerk. :-(

            I forgot that clapping louder for our center-right "Democrats" is all it takes for things like HSR to magically appear, like ponies, and that if you are disgusted by the corporate corruption that has rotted the Democratic party to its core and by the lack of a progressive political party, you don't belong here. The site owner agrees with that latter sentiment "100%". :-(

            "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

            by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:28:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Reinstating rail subsidies (3+ / 0-)

      And phasing out air subsidies would go a LONG way toward fixing the prioritization of air over rail.

      My Dad worked for the DOT for many, many years. He was working on the maglev initiative when Reagan appointed Liddy Dole (Bob's wife) to head transportation - with the express goal of destroying the competitiveness of rail transit in the US. A goal she pursued with criminal ruthlessness.

      The cuts to US rail subsidies were draconian, and sent the industry (and much of the larger economy) into a tailspin from which it never recovered.

      The current state of rail transport in the US is the intentional result of corrupt politicians whose pocket have been well-lined by the oil and automotive industries.

    •  A big problem with hi-speed rail is that (0+ / 0-)

      most Americans have never experienced it and can not imagine rail travel past what they experienced in the past.  Other objections I have encountered range from high-speed rail would consume too much infrastructure funding currently required - but not forthcoming - for roads, bridges and airports, to the U.S. is bigger than France or Belgium or Germany so the investment would never pay off, to our current passenger rail system requires perpetual federal subsidy, and the government would be stuck with permanent funding of another system as it would never be self-sustaining.

      What we need in this country are more future oriented leaders and far fewer stuck in a delusional past.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:15:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  it's fuel costs vs population density (0+ / 0-)

      rail works in American cities because of the high density
      and rail works in the north east because of the
      big population.

      rail works in china, japan and europe because of the
      population density.

      i would love HSR between Richmond and Boston.
      200 MPH,  but it won't make sense going to california
      you do that because you want it, not because of
      any economic return

      it's barely plausible connecting LA to SFO.

      •  We put men on the moon (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfbaytransplant

        We defeated Hitler (with help).

        We invented the atomic bomb and the Internet.

        You're telling me it's, "not plausible" to build a high-speed rail line between LA and SF?  Sorry, that dog won't hunt.

        They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

        by CharlieHipHop on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:10:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's not an engineering problem, it's economic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maybeeso in michigan, Yoshimi

          Give me $100 Billion, piece of cake.

          but, what's the best use of $100 Billion?

          That's a different story.

          If I had a $100 Billion to spend, would it be better
          to put it into incentives for Rooftop PV?

          Would it be better to spend it on Incentives for EV Cars?

          Would it be better to spend it on new water systems
          for 20 cities?  

          Would it be better to spend it on fixing up the Northeast
          Corridor for Amtrak HSR?  

          •  Why is this either/or? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            reflectionsv37

            We need to spend trillions -- yes, trillions -- in this country to address the massive infrastructure problems we face.  $100 billion is a drop in the bucket.

            If we have to amortize the costs over the long term, so be it; the benefits will accrue in the longer term so that seems right.  But failing to do these things now while we can will absolutely result in a severely diminished quality of life in this country.  

            It's not either/or.  It's both/and.

            They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

            by CharlieHipHop on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:09:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If I had a Trillion to spend. (0+ / 0-)

              On my List

              1) $100 Billion to incentivize Solar PV

              2) $100 Billion to incentivize Wind Farms

              3) $100 Billion to Incentivize Small Scale Storage.

              4) $100 Billion to incentivize energy efficient housing

              5) $100 Billion to incentivize energy efficient commercial
              strucutres

              6) $100 Billion to incentivize EV vehicles

              7) $100 Billion to Water treatment facilities.

              8 ) $100 Billion to put HSR on the Northeast corridor.

              9)  $100 Billion to  make the DoD 100% renewables.

              10) $100 Billion for High Speed Broadband.

              Even with deeper piles, i'd still invest into the best social payoffs.

      •  Trains DO NOT just carry PEOPLE! (0+ / 0-)

        I believe, patbahn, that you have COMPLETELY overlooked the PRIMARY driver of US rail transportation today - FREIGHT!

        Moving freight at 200 MPH would have great economic advantages, too.  Maybe Fed-Ex could sell off some of their air fleet, and still deliver overnight, via high-speed rail.

        OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

        by mstaggerlee on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:04:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It will be too late by then (0+ / 0-)
      [Rail travel] will return when Americans cannot afford to fly or tire of the nuisances flying has become...
      When Americans can't afford to fly, we will not have the resources to invest in a First World transportation system.  We will have eaten our seed corn.

      They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

      by CharlieHipHop on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:57:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Build it and they will come. (0+ / 0-)

      Deal is, Americans don't have the option of high speed rail, hence they have no choice but to fly or drive. Saying Americans won't ride a train unless they can't afford to fly anymore is silly. That would mean our air carriers would have to go bankrupt and airports be shut down wholesale before we can even get started on the rain system we need.

      Per the diary, what's keeping us from developing high speed rail are the airline and auto industries afraid of the competition. That has nothing to do with what people need or want, it has to do with entrenched industries effectively monopolizing the market and stifling competition.

      There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

      by Joieau on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:57:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The issue is ideology, not convenience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies

      Corporate America is foisting airborne travel on us all for an ideological reason: a rail systems is federal infrastructure that needs to be maintained by the federal government so everybody can benefit from it. I.e., in the words of Teabag Nation, "socialism". In contrast, airlines are private (if you ignore the corporate welfare) and airports are maintained by cities and counties in cooperation with private companies.

      And of course, flying is much more expensive, so forcing air-based travel on the nation introduces yet another element of Social Darwinism, which is a most welcome byproduct from the perspective of Corporate America.

      What we're really looking at here isn't just a competition of two models of how to transport people from point A to point B. It's really a competition between two models of capitalism: the American libertarian a.k.a. market-fundamentalist model and the social-democratic model much of the rest of the world prefers.

      "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

      by brainwave on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  LOL... TOTALLY Presumptuous (0+ / 0-)

      How many Americans can say they have actually used high speed rail? I have-- the Eurostar-- but that is hardly representational.

      The notion Americans prefer cattle car air travel over high speed rail is a joke-- because most have never had the option of using high speed rail.

      I can tell you from experience, it's wayyyyyy better.

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:08:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Freight Companies Have Made Themselves Clear (0+ / 0-)

      They have no intention of giving up the rent they receive from our outdated, unreliable passenger corriders.

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:13:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've already decided not to fly... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies

      due to the violation of our civil liberties that goes on on a daily basis in security process to board planes...and due to the fact that planes pollute, relatively speaking, more than trains in terms of the numbers of people moved.

    •  Hi-speed rail wouldn't obsolete air infrastructure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yoshimi

      There are plenty of trips beyond 750 miles that are too long even with 200+ mph top speeds.  Connecting trips to major air hubs from small cities will probably also continue to be by air where difficult terrain or small passenger volumes are involved.

      Europe continues to have a vigorous airline sector, often offering discount fares lower than those in the U.S. for similar distances.  High speed rail will take flights out of overcrowded skies and eliminate air trips that are impractically short, like New York to Washington and Boston, not obsolete domestic aviation.  

    •  FYI, 300 KM/Hour = 186 MPH n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Thomas Jefferson, 1816: "I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the Laws of our country."

      by PDX Dem on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:00:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  US actually has the largest freight rail capacity (0+ / 0-)

      But that does nothing to help passengers.

      Personally, I advocate building a combination of urban metro/light rail and bus systems and HSR on high use corridors like NY to DC, etc.

      That would be a good start.

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:05:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A new diary is up that perfectly elaborates (0+ / 0-)

        What I mention above. "Sunday Train: Four Rules for Transit-Oriented Development from Five leaders" is based on lessons learned in other countries that would benefit rail redevelopment in the USA.

        Hope everyone will give it a read, and give BruceMcF some love for his diligent work on this diary series:

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

        by koNko on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:11:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds like the North East today. (0+ / 0-)

      The most practical place to start with major city proximity and population densities comparable to Western Europe.

      Traffic is a nightmare, vehicle ownership costs are high, add the hassle of airports for meager 30 - 45 minute flights.

      NTM the NE is a Dem political bastion (Christie not withstanding).

      We need to get it done there, before the US midsection will ever warm to it.

      “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

      by RUNDOWN on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:42:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But (0+ / 0-)
      Until then, flight is preferred.
      But even our airports are outdated.  Even our VP Biden couldn't help but point this out on the record.

      Our whole infrastructure is old, falling apart....bridges collapsing, roads congested/potholed, communication system fragmented and unreliable, gas leaks causing explosions, sink holes, etc.  It's systemic.  

      It's not just because we prefer cars or planes, it's because we are not fixing or upgrading anything.  All the money is just going into certain people's pockets and it's not being reinvested into our infrastructure.

    •  It seems to me that there is room for both modes (0+ / 0-)

      of travel, especially in the USA with its large, lightly populated mid-west. The point against rail travel is not its expense, but its relative slowness in that air travel is much quicker getting from one airport to another.

      The operant question then becomes: where are airports located? Invariably they are located well outside population centers due to the noise pollution and the size required of the runways. This means that you cannot just calculate the time saved by traveling by plane to the airport; a more accurate calculation would be to compare the time traveling from your doorstep to your ultimate destination (whether it be a convention center, a vacation site, etc.). This would give a more realistic view to those who oppose travel by rail  in favor of flying.

      Also, the argument that rail is cheaper than flying does not hold when comparing the high-speed trains to airplanes.

    •  I'm truly embarrassed (0+ / 0-)

      at how far behind we are in this country after viewing the beautiful, modern and speedy trains in other parts of the world.

  •  North America is trapped in the 1950s: (30+ / 0-)

    selectively anyway, but both politically and technologically. It is good on communications technology, though not as good on internet speed as Europe, starting to figure out energy but very uneven in terms of public policy to encourage solar and wind, and utterly primitive on transportation where the last great effort was the Eisenhower interstate highway system.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:56:55 AM PDT

    •  The difference is The Free Market. (9+ / 0-)

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:03:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  market is free to transport us back to the 1950s (6+ / 0-)

        rail system like in the movie back to the future.

         
         Except instead of moving forward it's moving back in time. To the train speeds already known to 1950s " leave it to beaver". :-)  Weeeee  we're all back to the future at speeds of 1950s American rail travel  now.  This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Only in America"!! ;-) Hot Dog!!

        You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

        by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:29:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  dependant on rail travel to get back to the future (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lunachickie

          aren't we? Or can we get to the future in a steam locomotive just like in the move "back to the future". (So we don't really need hi speed rail ;-) You know that's what makes America great is you can find all the answers in a Hollywood movie. (humor) :-)

          You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

          by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:41:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If only we still had that 1950's rail system (6+ / 0-)

          The 1950's rail system was better than what we have left.  I'm thinking specifically of the economic affects of all those abandoned lines and a railroad company interested only in its real estate, not its transportation function.  In Houlton, Maine, for example, the local economy has never recovered from the abandonment of the rail line (not a Maine Central Railroad line), shutting off their potatoes' access to east coast markets.  Trying to ship bulk cargo by rail out of Portland was one of the more frustrating exercises in which I ever engaged.  Our railroad's disinterest was finally explained when one of its Vice President's told me that it saw it's business as real estate, not carrying products to market or moving people.  Transportation is not the only problem our State's economy has, but it is a big part of it.  

        •  Well, it has more to do with laissez-faire (5+ / 0-)

          capitalism after the Civil War, the complicated legal maneuvers pioneered by railroad lawyers, the lack of national rail transportation policy at pretty much any time, the fact that railroads could be taxed locally (where interstates are not), the move from railway mail to highway and air (since mail service generally paid for passenger service losses), a longstanding antipathy between railroad unions and management (not that the unions were wrong), monopolistic and duopolistic practices by rail lines, destructive competition in other places by rail lines, conflicts of interest when rail lines were allowed to own things like coal deposits, the way the federal government allowed the Pennsylvania RR to purchase the Chesapeake Bay steamboat lines and run them into bankruptcy, the way it allowed GM to buy interurban electric lines and do the same ... Ah yes, and of course the longtime railroad practice of buying legislators.

          It's like a "bad seed" in the family tree. We're still paying for the sins of our great- and great-great transportation grandfathers.

          Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

          by dadadata on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:26:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Trapped in the 1950's? Large portions of the (2+ / 0-)

      nation seem to be trapped in the 1870's.

      And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

      by MrJersey on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:02:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because we allow companies to set (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      global citizen

      the standards, rather than public need.

      Here I am, now. Entertain me.

      by blueoregon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:58:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Chinese HSR system isn't what it seems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, Zornorph

    It suffers from shoddy and dangerous construction, costs too much to provide benefit for most Chinese citizens, and isn't financially sustainable.  

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/...

    •  charliehall2 - the Chinese don't need a DeLorean (13+ / 0-)

      I guess you missed my humorous post (chuckle) about America's wild west mentality of Marty McFly, just like in the movie Back to the Future, where we can depend on a steam locomotive to take us back to the future, instead of hi-speed rail being America's ticket to the future.  (just a little humor) Because sometimes you got to laugh to keep from crying. When you live in the only industrialized nation in the world where hi-speed rail networks only exist in model train toy stores.  

      Humbly my view is even if the rail systems of others are imperfect, ours is an antique and belongs in a 1950's museum. Or on a movie set selling tickets back to the future with 1950's steam locomotion. It is not the sort of thing you would ordinarily expect from a superpower, unless of course it was bought by Detroit and the airline industry lobbyists up there in the big house on the hill.

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:54:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We do have one HSR network (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C

        and that is Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Which needs around $50 billion immediately. Yes, it is barely better than the Metroliners which premiered 45 years ago (!), but it is better than nothing and we should fix it first, before moving on to build additional systems.

        Note that at the moment we can't even get that through Congress. :(

        •  HSR makes money in the US (3+ / 0-)

          The Acelas on the Northeast Corridor run a surplus, over $200 million in Fiscal Year 2013. That's with an average Acela speed of only 80 mph and a 3-hour plus trip time NYC-D.C.. (The Northeast Regionals take about 4 hours, sharing the same infrastructure, and also return a surplus, more than $100 million.)

          The Haters like to parrot that HSR never makes money. Ignorance, or lies? Even the half-speed HSR Acelas on the NEC make a solid and growing operating surplus. It sort of disappears offsetting losses elsewhere in the national system.

          Worldwide, HSR often makes a nice surplus on operations. Of course, it's rarely enuff to repay the capital cost of paving the highways, building the runways, or the railroad equivalent thereof.

          However, the French planned to use the surpluses from the first HSR line, the TGV Paris-Lyon, to pay for building one more HSR line at a time. Then when the Great Recession hit, the French govt decided to put more funds into an accelerated expansion of the network, creating more jobs, more energy savings, more time savings for passengers, etc. That policy change sped up the expansion of HSR lines thru-out the country, and that was good; unfortunately it obscured the story of how "profitable" HSR can be.

          Now Amtrak is trying to line up reliable funding so it can order upgraded Acelas to improve and expand service with half-hourly departures and about 50% more capacity.

          Because of changes in technology and policy, the new trains will be considerable lighter than the current ones. The new trains will use less energy, recycle braking energy into the power system, and go just a bit faster where the tracks are good enuff.

          On the NEC, there's a line-up of projects needed to repair and/or improve the 225-mile route. New signaling, catenary etc on the "raceway" between New Brunswick and Trenton, $500 million; "undercutting" the entire worn and storm-damaged roadway base, say $300 million; new Portal Bridges in NJ at least $1 Billion; adding two more tracks Newark-Hudson tunnel entrance maybe another Billion; new Baltimore tunnel to replace the one opened in 1873 about $1.5 Billion; new bridge over the Susquehanna close to a Billion; other bridges, many many smaller things like culverts and catenary, more Billions.

          For an investment of about $3 Billion each year going forward (plus those new and improved trains), incremental improvements could get the D.C.-NYC trip could get down to 2 hrs 30 minutes.

          We are closer to HSR on the NEC than it might seem. If we can get one successful example it will encourage others.

    •  Just because China does a crappy job on (16+ / 0-)

      the overall quality doesn't mean that the US should mimic that crappy job.

      I prefer not to buy Chinese-made consumer goods, either, if I can find an alternative.

      And auto and air travel in the US are increasing in cost at an alarming rate, costing too much to provide benefit for a larger number of American citizens each year.

      Finally, the crumbling, bloated, inefficient, and expensive network of highways and other automobile infrastructure in the US is far from being financially sustainable.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:02:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The times I've ridden it it's been packed. (4+ / 0-)

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:16:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Diarist also edited out the smog in background... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      charliehall2, Woody

      The Chinese HSR picture, which is magnificent, was widely ridiculed because it also showed Beijing's horrendous smog problem in the background,


      ODS results in Obama's amazing ability to humiliate his biggest critics, on the right and the left.

      by NoFortunateSon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:21:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm taking Amtrak today (9+ / 0-)

    from New York to Baltimore.

    I'm not taking the Acela Express; I'm taking an ordinary train. The cost difference was $300 RT! And the time difference is only 1/2 hour each way.

  •  our rail system is exceptional (6+ / 0-)

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:29:13 AM PDT

  •  Big oil likes passenger trains to be slow and old (16+ / 0-)

    They also like electric cars are impractical.
    Congress likes what big oil likes..

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:45:10 AM PDT

  •  Another important item to note (27+ / 0-)

    The train stations are often right in the heart of the cities they serve, not miles away from the downtown like most airports are. Which means there isn't any additional travel required to get to your destination.

    Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

    by Spud1 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:46:41 AM PDT

    •  to Spud1 - excellent point! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DuzT, salmo, blue in NC, dewtx, Spud1

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:56:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes! The central station in Cologne for example. (9+ / 0-)

      You can exit the station and be literally in the shadow of the famous Cologne Cathedral which is, IMO, one of the most impressive structures on Earth.

      I can see Canada from my house. No, really, I can.

      by DuzT on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:20:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is actually true in the US, too (8+ / 0-)

      Furthermore, many cities have incorporated Amtrak into their city planning. Philadelphia's 30th Street Station features "The Porch," a gathering spot outside the station where food trucks, entertainment, weekend farmer's markets and other activities take place.

      Miami is building a brand new Central Station for Amtrak right next to the airport (which is actually fairly close to downtown). Amtrak is set to occupy it by the end of this year, and a "people mover" links it to the airport and a huge centralized rental car facility. Miami MetroRail and TriRail will also serve Central Station.

      Florida East Coast Railroad, tired of waiting on politicians, is working on its own medium speed rail system, the first phase of which will link Miami and Orlando with trains exceeding 100 mph and making the trip in 3 hours. They eventually hope to extend service to Jacksonville and Tampa.

      And contrary to the diarist's insistence that Amtrak trains use 1950s technology, their locomotives and rail cars are actually perfectly capable of comfortably running in excess of 100 mph. The only 1950s-era "Heritage Cars" left in Amtrak's fleet are diners and baggage cars on East Coast trains, and those are being replaced beginning this year.

      All the elements are in place to create a world class rail network here in the US. The people are ready for it. All that's lacking is the political will.

      I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

      by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:04:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  to ObamOcala - I get it you're for hi-speed rail (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        US Blues, pelagicray, wilywascal, dewtx, Jay C

        in the US being developed, so that part of the thesis of the diary you support, however you don't support the diary fully in what we are trying to do here, and for that reason won't rec it. And continuing to insist on the distortion of what the diary says which we are referring to a rail system that is able to move at 1950's speeds, it's useless to try to buy hi-speed rail train, which then has no tracks to run on and can't be used. This is exactly the condition of the American rail system. The faster trains that you talk about moving in excess of 100 mph, well that may be on limited routes, but most places can't even do that and where it is able to do that true hi-speed rail moves at more than double that speed, and your failing to mention that in your posts as well.

        If you are not going to support the diary then that is your business but you shouldn't make posts that are incomplete in the information they provide, so as to mislead people into thinking that America is doing better on hi-speed rail than it is. The fact is compared to other countries we are doing extremely poorly and in fact trains that are capable of doing higher speeds that have to go slow at 1950's speeds, because the rail network won't support anything more, only compounds this national tragedy, and international embarrassment. America needs to get fully on board with hi-speed rail now, tomorrow and forever. That is the thesis of this diary and it deserves to be fully embraced not half- hearted measures.

        You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

        by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:14:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And we are still not controling our transportation (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, dewtx

          interfaces so that with a few exceptions there is not seamless short walking from one mode to another. For a country at least once priding itself on engineering and organization we have reached a miserable backwater state on both in transportation as a real network.

          There was a day when I returned from almost anywhere overseas and felt I'd returned to "modern" and "efficient"—and that included Europe. Not so much anymore. I'm feeling the reverse more often. I return and find frustration at idiocy in simple things, things that just do not work well when the fix if fairly standard and obvious. We have dumbed down in more ways than one.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:54:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  My apologies ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dougymi, dewtx, Jay C

          ... You misread my comments (and I wasn't "refusing" to rec your diary, I just got up, it's Sunday morning, and I haven't had any breakfast or caffeine yet. I forgot to rec it. That's since been rectified.

          I am not saying the U.S. is doing even well on high-speed rail. It's not. I am saying Amtrak has the tools and technology to do much better than it's doing. The GE P42 diesel and new City Sprinter electric locomotives; Superliner II, Amfleet and Viewliner rolling stock and even the Acela train sets are all perfectly capable modern technology. The 1950s stuff is all but gone.

          The basis for an excellent network exists, and can be brought up to a very high standard in a relatively short time. From there, we can build into high-speed rail. (And I believe high-speed rail development should be given a higher priority as well. See my sig line.)

          The problem is a lack of investment, political will and vision. We need a comprehensive national rail policy to ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle — Amtrak, SunRail, TriRail, All Aboard Florida (the FEC initiative), individual high-speed rail projects currently in the works in the midwest and California, transit and light rail projects in cities all over the country — fit together. The objective is to provide as many Americans as possible, in big cities and small towns, access to quality public rail transportation.

          I suspect you and I agree on nearly every point. The only place I disagree is with your characterization of Amtrak equipment as being stuck in the 1950s. The equipment is perfectly well suited for the network we can build quickly, and can serve us well into the future as Amtrak's current network becomes more regional to feed the national high-speed network I hope we'll build. Not all European trains are high-speed. They have slower regional diesel and electric train sets as well. I'll put the P42, City Sprinters, Amfleet, Superliner II, Viewliner and Acelas up against any regional European Trains, all else being equal.

          America's rail problem isn't a lack of modern technology or capability. It's purely political.

          I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

          by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:11:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ramshield, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody, NoMoreLies

          I think what perhaps folks like ObamOcala find objectionable about this kind of diary is that it presents such polar, binary oppositions: Amtrak = ancient, decrepit, 1950; Chinese/EU rail systems = sleek, hypermodern, ultraawesome.

          But nothing is ever so cut and dry.

          The fact is, even as we acknowledge Amtrak's shortcomings, there are numerous good-faith efforts to push for improving rail in the US; it's not like we're all wallowing in ignorance. In many cases, there is massive popular support for rail that is effectively shut down by vociferous Teabagger minorities. The Florida case is a good example: communities are having to make an end-run around the know-nothings in that state's governor's mansion. That doesn't sound to me like a picture of American knuckle-draggers, stuck in their ancient ways; it sounds to me like there is one asshole in the governor's mansion, getting his talking points from an energized minority of mouthbreathers. (Just like there's another asshole in the NJ governor's mansion, who has single-handedly deprived that state of federal rail stimulus money.)

          At the same time, some of the systems that are being held up here as models for benighted Americans -- the Chinese high speed rail system, for example -- are probably not what we should be emulating, given concerns about safety and such.

          The question is, do we want to build a high-speed rail system for the sake of doing one -- that is, as a mere symbol of our catching up to the rest of the world -- or do we want to do it in a way that is done right, that speaks to the needs and concerns of American stakeholders?

          Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

          by Dale on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:03:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Philly's 30th st. station is beautiful; (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caryltoo, Woody, Spud1

        just rode the Amtrak from there this week on my way to Lancaster, PA. I love the simple, classic lines; I love the acoustics in there, the way the departure announcements sound over the PA system. You really get the sense there that you are part of a bustling, shared space of community -- rather than sitting in the equivalent of a four-hour elevator ride, where you wait to be transferred from one antiseptic pod to another.

        Many of these stations, like Grand Central and the 30th st. station, or Union Station in LA, date to a time when transportation hubs were understood as places of arrival, linked to the vitality of the urban center, rather than just as placeless conduits for folks on their way from gate B32 to gate D15.

        Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

        by Dale on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:48:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Integrated systems. Interface control that works. (12+ / 0-)

      That is the main thing I find just plain idiotic here vs. Japan and Europe where I am familiar with the ground transportation systems.

      Our transportation is not a system in any true sense of the word. Neither is the "free market" and "private enterprise" the sole reason for the idiocy. Most of those other nation's systems involve private/public mixes. The difference is really in interface control.

      A basic in computer systems is controlling the interfaces. When done well you have systems developed by different companies and different components able to seamlessly pass information. We have flaws there, as anyone with experience in proprietary systems that don't play well together knows. This tube thing, this internet thing, works reasonably well because protocols control the interfaces by which my Mac can post this and your whatever can see it.

      Just under 50 years ago I was able to walk downstairs in Tokyo, Yokohama and other city train stations, regular and Shinkansen (those were the ones seen to left in the linked photo, the old 0 Series) to interface with the subways on which trains of several different companies ran. I could walk outside into a bus terminal in most and city bus and streetcar stops were right outside the doors.

      In Europe during the last decade I've found even better integration, interface control, of public and private transportation systems so they have a damn system, not a kludge as we do.

      One of my favorites, and an example of what less spectacular stations have functionally is Lisbon's Estação do Oriente.

      From the link above:

      It houses a railway station, a metro, and a bus terminal. The entrance to the metro platform has huge tile murals designed by some of the best local contemporary artists.

      The station will soon be expanded to become the main terminal of the high speed train service planned for Lisbon, and as the city's first stop for the train arriving from the future Lisbon Airport to be built across the river.

      A few years ago I did an experiment, just to see if I could do here what I expect to do in Europe. I tried to get from my home to another country taking nothing except public transportation, to include single taxi rides at each end for "suburban" origins and destinations (In Europe I can even reach many of those without a taxi!). Not possible, though I came close—at the cost of experiencing our systematic idiocy and breakdowns costing hours and lots of rolling of bags for an old couple. Not like Frankfurt at all:

      Yes, arrive here on an ICE from another major city or catch one on the "local" platform for nearby areas, including little scenic places in the Rhine valley. Anyone interested in a long, detailed tour can watch this.

      I can fly from Dulles or JFK to here, or other major European airports, and be right into the integrated transportation network with controlled interfaces allowing me to reach cities across the continent by rail or small towns by rail and bus, often without ever getting in the rain. Not so getting to Dulles or JFK! That reminds me more of my old "developing world" travels. They one where I had to carry various adapters because one cannot use controlled interfaces to just plug in electrical devices: kind of 120v here and 220v there, this kind of plug here another there . . . yeah, interface control makes lots of things possible and easy.

      Spain's AVE is among the best and a television station in Madrid did a test. It sent two teams toward its sister station in Barcelona, one by air one by AVE. Those by AVE won by something like half an hour or more.

      Meanwhile our poor Acela can't even reach design speed except over a very short piece of track and has to plod along slower than just the simple intercity trains in Spain! The spectacular run from Barcelona to Valencia, often on cliff hugging bridges over the sea on an ordinary intercity reached speeds Acela rarely makes.

      Not sure if it still holds, maybe the author can help, but years ago when I was thinking about a trip to the Normandy beaches I found the slow trains out that way had good bus connections—the bus departures were scheduled for train arrivals. Yeah, interface control.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:22:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great comments - the BIG picture n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pelagicray

        Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

        by Spud1 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:02:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The big picture is that an integrated system is (0+ / 0-)

          freedom. Here in travel I feel constrained. I have to worry about traffic, parking, fender benders with hours spent in red tape and insurance crap. In Europe? I haven't rented a car since the 1970s and have still made it to small towns and places. I'd possibly rent to get into some remote areas and national parks, but have found I can usually reach even those by bus.

          Technology? We are just plain primitive. In case you missed it (I link in another comment here) see the bit about the subway in Barcelona and bus in Valencia in this old comment. Can't count the times I've seen tourists wandering the Metrorail system here lost and confused, on the wrong line, two stations past their stop. We are finally getting cars that may go a bit toward helping, but I see no signs of station information improvement. The bus? Well, with a phone ap maybe, but otherwise . . . The idea of a bus with a moving dot showing approach to each stop and information about connections and major points around that stop is alien, something from I suppose "over there" so we are closer to what I've experienced in "less developed" places (we are now among those in this respect).

          So, freedom. I have my chip card or pass good for all local transport so I can hop from bus to tram to subway or even in some cases cable car and ferry with no worries my day will be ruined by a fender bender or time wasted finding no parking or in what we call the I-66 parking lot sometimes here. I can expect to set out and with a few short, healthy walks get where I intend without lots of hitches and delays and let someone else worry about the mechanics of that.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:02:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The hearts of most American cities (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue in NC, Subterranean

      are dead.  That's yet another problem.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:35:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tx for a glimpse of a future we wont see here (11+ / 0-)

    Because if its a choice between upgrading our decrepit infrastructure and making sure everyone in the top 0/1% can afford to buy that island for Buffy's Sweet 16 party, or that 2nd private jet, or a yacht thats bigger than an aircraft carrier with gold handles in the loo, well, you know, priorities.

  •  America's big (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zornorph

    Distances are just too big for rail to make much sense compared to air travel, except in highly populated corridors like the Northeast.  Plus, building high-speed rail means straightening the tracks which means bulldozing thousands of homes along the way.  Not so easy.

    Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

    by Sky Net on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:57:31 AM PDT

    •  to Sky Net - where are you getting this from? (22+ / 0-)

      It would be helpful to back up your arguments if you could actually post a link in support of your position, so as to add value to our discussion here. But generally speaking it should be noted that Russia which geographically is the biggest country in the world, is heavily invested in hi-speed rail, so is China, which wants to send hi-speed bullet trains all the way to India and Europe.  

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:05:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  rail (0+ / 0-)

        Can't recall where I read it, but current Amtraks travel at slower speeds then they're capable of because it's not a straight line.  Long experience riding the rails in the Northeast corridor shows just how difficult it would be to straighten them.  It gets pretty crowded along those tracks.

        I didn't find anything to back that up, but did find this Congressional Research Service report which was quite interesting and detailed other challenges as well.  Could be possible, but would be expensive.

        Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

        by Sky Net on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:24:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just increasing average speed ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, roberb7, Jay C

          ... from its current level of about 45 mph to 60-70 mph would cut a tremendous amount of time from the trans-continental routes.

          That's actually achievable relatively cheaply — first by double-tracking all passenger routes and by eliminating highway grade crossings along those routes (CSX is already doing that to speed up its freight trains).

          There's no reason Amtrak trains as they exist right now can't exceed 100 mph on conventional tracks. The investment would be minimal.

          A true high-speed train (200+ mph) traveling rail lines built on Interstate highway right-of-way with no crossings at grade could travel from New York to Los Angeles in about a day and a half. That would certainly be competitive with air travel.

          I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

          by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:13:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  to ObamOcala - If you'll pardon me for noticing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            US Blues, Shockwave, dewtx

            my view is from your post you've never actually lived in a country that has a fully integrated functioning hi-speed network. If that were the case I think you would be more likely to advocate along the lines of what the rest of the world did, which is not to invest in a patchwork system, but to be fully vested in a national hi-speed rail system, that is properly funded from its inception. Better just isn't good enough, we need full hi-speed rail service as a national priority and we need it now! Because the American people deserve nothing less.

            You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

            by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:19:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Realistically, we can't build it NOW (5+ / 0-)

              The European high-speed system wasn't built overnight. A true national high-speed network isn't going to be built in the US in the next 5 or 10 years, even if the political will was there to start building it today — and it's not.

              Florida could've had the first phase of its high-speed rail network in operation today had the idiot people of this state not elected Rick Scott.

              Republican governors all over the country are spiking high-speed projects which could build into a national network. Their actions alone have set us back a minimum of 4 years.

              In contrast, we can bring the current national network up to speed — that speed, for now, being 100 mph — in a relatively short time if we can get the politicians on board. NARP, of which I'm a member, has done yeoman's work on that, but even that relatively modest goal is an uphill struggle politically.

              You're right, I've never lived in — or even visited — a country with true high-speed rail. But as a railfan, I've studied the European model extensively. I've got BritRail, EuroStar, SwissRail, DB Rail and SNCF apps on my iPad, so I know their equipment, their networks and their schedules intimately. I'm followed high-speed rail development in countries like Morocco and Vietnam.

              I know this stuff, believe me. And I want high-speed rail, ASAP. But I also recognize a national high-speed network will take time to build. In the interim, we've got a pretty decent national network we can start with, and even with all its obvious flaws, it's already setting new ridership benchmarks every year.

              We can and should build a national high-speed rail network. But we also can and should improve the passenger rail network we already have.

              I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

              by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:28:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  RIGHT... and That's Why I've Been Advocating (0+ / 0-)

                a 25 year, massively funded infrastructure program, of which dedicated high speed rail would be a part of.

                One more time: for every One Billion dollars invested in infrastructure, 50,000 good paying jobs are created.

                do the math.

                "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

                by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:50:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Ramshield, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewtx, Woody

              Politics is the art of the possible. If ObamOcala is advocating incremental changes, it's because it's the approach that is most likely to work in a vast country in which power is decentralized and in which individual communities vary widely in ideological outlook and local political dynamics.

              I don't know if you know this, but both of you are in support of improvements to rail travel. Why argue? Get the people behind you on the general issue of improvements to rail -- perhaps by demonstrating that the outlay of expenses need not be as intimidating as the anti-rail folks would have you believe -- and then work on this question of whether or not high-speed rail is the way to go.

              Hoping for high-speed rail straight out of the gate like this is like hoping to wake up tomorrow morning and have Glass-Steagall back in place, the top-bracket tax rate returned to Eisenhower levels, and living-wage bills in place in every state and jurisdiction in this country. We need to keep the end goal in sight, but we also need to reckon with the immediate political obstacles.

              Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

              by Dale on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:15:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  It is so disappointing to read this bogus meme (8+ / 0-)

      here of all places.

      It is one of the favorite claims of the right wing, and it is repeatedly and easily debunked.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:13:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Debunk away (0+ / 0-)

        I don't claim to be a rail expert, and I am a big fan of rail in the US and high-speed rail that I've ridden elsewhere.  If it can be shown to work at a reasonable cost, I'm all for it.  I'd take the train over planes any day of the week.

        Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

        by Sky Net on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:26:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right, (6+ / 0-)

          because America never does anything that unless it is immediately cost effective.  The money we "lost" during Bush's Wars would have gone far if invested in hs rail.  What happened to the campaign promises to create jobs, good jobs?  I guess they aren't cost effective.

          Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

          by tobendaro on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:30:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wait a sec (0+ / 0-)

            Are you saying you're against cost effectiveness?  And you'd support any program where the costs outweigh the benefits?

            Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

            by Sky Net on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:33:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do you think air travel is cost effective? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blue in NC, tobendaro, NoMoreLies

              It's not.  Even just the cost of the TSA and air mashalls -- leave out the air traffic control system, FAA, subsidies for the oil and gas industry, costs of transportation to and from the airport -- is rather expensive.  

              Over the long term, high-speed rail is much more cost effective which is why the advanced nations are implementing or have implemented it.  

              In about ten years or less when the cost of fuel is prohibitive, the U.S. will have a Third World transportation system.  What about the larger cost of that?

              They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

              by CharlieHipHop on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:53:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Well, for starters, the "America is too big" (21+ / 0-)

          claim just doesn't hold water. As DR pointed out, Russia is nearly double the size of the US with less than half the population, yet rail - higher-speed than Amtrak, too - is well-developed there. And high-speed rail isn't successful in only a single European country, it is successful across the whole of Europe, a very large area.

          Second, construction and maintenance of road infrastructure is anything but cheap. Near where I live, the NC Department of Transportation is proposing a 19-mile "bypass" highway, 4 lanes, with tolls, at a cost of over $900 million. And that road is being built predominantly through farmland and forest, not impacting very many houses at all. That's $50 million per mile, more than the cost of Charlotte's first light rail line (light rail lines can effectively link the further-apart high-speed "arterial" lines) - built through a highly built-up part of the city. In fact, the very "large" size of the United States contradicts the claim that all sorts of houses would have to be bulldozed to build high-speed rail lines; as "arterial" lines, they would be built out in the vast countryside, disrupting few houses. Yes, there would be some housing demolition required where the lines enter cities, but there is also plenty of housing demolition for new highways and for airport expansions.

          Air travel has become very expensive these days, and, for medium-length trips - less than 1,000 miles, say - is very time-inefficient. There is the long trip to each airport; most airports are located away from population centers. Then there's remote parking and the shuttle to the airport. Then there's the endless check-in process and, worst of all, the security checks. The 2 hours in the air is but a fraction of the total trip time. In fact, that 1,000-mile trip probably takes more than 5 hours...longer than a high-speed train would take.

          Auto travel is far from free. After the crushing, crippling cost of building ever-wider automobile infrastructure, and then maintaining it (which the US does a pretty piss-poor job of), there's the cost of operating the car itself. The GSA reimbursement rate for auto travel is currently $0.56/mile. That is pretty close to the actual cost; the gummint would be loathe to over-reimburse worker bees. So, that 1,000-mile trip by car would cost at least $560, each way, and take more than one full day. While that amount may be typical of an airline ticket these days, rail tickets would actually be less than that amount.

          "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

          by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:00:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Don't know about straightening the tracks but (9+ / 0-)

      the tunnels and underpasses would have to be rebuilt to accommodate high speed rail.
      Think of the thousands of construction jobs this would create right here.
      So many of those bridges are in desperate need of repair anyway it would be a twofer.

      I can see Canada from my house. No, really, I can.

      by DuzT on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:26:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. Ancient tunnel under Baltimore (4+ / 0-)

        The tunnel under Baltimore was opened in 1873. When the planners went to examine the range of possible improvements, the standard "No Build" option was not included: Even with repairs, the forecast remaining life of the antique infrastructure was 15-20 years. Build a new tunnel or shut down the NEC.

        Likewise, the 100-year-old tunnels under the Hudson into Penn Station urgently need serious repairs, which can't be scheduled until new tunnels are opened to carry the traffic while the old one is closed to do the needed work.

        These tunnel projects are being designed to handle Amtrak's current fleet as well as HSR trains.

        The argument enjoyed by the diarist and others -- go for HSR or make incremental improvements -- is bogus. It's not either/or, it's BOTH/AND.

    •  Size (6+ / 0-)

      The distance between mainland China's 3 biggest cities are (in miles):
        1175 Beijing-Guangzhao
          665 Beijing-Shanghai
          753 Shanghai-Guangzhao
      All 3 routes are high speed, 2 of them among the fastest in the world (I believe you can soon go on from Beijing to Manchuria too). The comparison to the above 3 routes in the US may be a Boston-Atlanta-Orlando triangle, a Seattle-San Diego stretch, or a NYC-Chicago-Mpls stretch.

      I doubt anybody is arguing to emulate China's eminent domain rules or construction standards.

  •  I get reminded of this frequently (45+ / 0-)

    I've used French trains quite a bit and love them.  And, about once a month, I go from my home in Chico CA to Oakland for a union meeting.I usually go by Amtrak, partly out of philosophical support for rail and partly because I don't enjoy driving it.  So it's Amtrak bus from Chico to Sacramento, then Capitol Corridor train to Richmond and BART local rail to Oakland.  4.5 hours.  I actually enjoy the trip.  The scenery across the Delta and along the Bay shore is lovely. But every time, I'm thinking: if this were France I'd be doing it in 90 minutes.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:00:07 AM PDT

    •  please rec Chico David RN's comment (7+ / 0-)

      Wow that was really a great post. Thank you very much for your support and thanks for sharing with us your commitment to green transportation.

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:08:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Partly because of the "interface control" problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx, Woody

      I mention above. Individual segments may even work reasonably well, but they don't connect well. Only in the last year or so has the bus station for Washington, D.C. moved, as was "required" in legislation decades ago to Union Station.

      So, it was possible to get from one of the suburban Metrorail stations to Union Station and catch Amtrak for New York it was not possible to get to the bus station that sat right under the Metrorail and Amtrak tracks a few blocks from Union Station—blocks traversed by foot on broken sidewalks through "less than attractive" city. Yeah, you could take Metrobus, assuming you found the stops and line and schedule that were and still are poorly marked compared to European stops. You can see this is a pet peeve from a previous post that mentioned that issue! Note this on the bus:

      Technology? I still have my EMT Valencia card, good on all transport, with the chip and a few rides. I knew my destination and expected no problem with the stop and then noticed the ads and travel promotion on the bus video monitors faded and a moving red dot on a map was approaching a stop--with information about the main things around that stop. For example, as the clip faded and dot appeared for another stop the map blew up and noted a hospital, government office and connections with other transit at that major stop. Every stop had shelter(s) with routes clearly marked and digital displays showing arrivals in the next ten minutes or so; even some way out in the far suburbs among rice fields.
      We have what in system's (IT) used to be called "bloody" or "bleeding" interfaces. Data doesn't flow there, it has to be kludged across. Our transportation interfaces are too often like a computer trying to pass information to another where the text has to be printed and then scanned and OCRed into the other!

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:12:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've worked in S.F. with many (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reflectionsv37

      people who live in Sacto and work in the city, and have to submit themselves to charter buses or greyhound to get to work. insane. HSR would be so much better for the economy in Ca.

      Here I am, now. Entertain me.

      by blueoregon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:03:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For that particular route, the current system..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoregon

        is not all that bad.  The Capitol Corridor Train from Sac to the East Bay with decent linkage to the Sacramento light rail system and the BART system in the Bay is not at all bad.  Not what it could be.  Not what a European system would be,  But better than buses or driving, for sure.
        And it's got wifi and you can get a halfway decent glass of wine on board.
        And the scenery is a treat almost all the way.

        "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

        by Chico David RN on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:20:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And California has been steadily (0+ / 0-)

      improving the experience by double tracking sections so that passenger trains get less delays.

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:23:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We spend the money on aircraft carriers and (23+ / 0-)

    bank bailouts.  It's not wasted.  Not a bit. Not  a penny!

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:00:29 AM PDT

  •  Classic techno while thinking about (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DuzT, lunachickie, Rogneid, Shockwave

    transcontinental rail on a cloudy Sunday morning:

    "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

    by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:08:26 AM PDT

  •  You didn't even go into the maglev (0+ / 0-)

    Or did you? I don't think I saw pictures.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:11:25 AM PDT

    •  zenbassoon - well the scope of the diary is limite (4+ / 0-)

      because if you focus on everything, then after reading the diary people will remember only little bits or nothing, rather than put people on information overload. Tried to focus on the nuts and bolts of the benefits of hi-speed rail overall, in the hope that people will be impressed sufficient in their support to find the commitment to write to their member of Congress to tell them to get on board with hi-speed rail to build a modern critical infrastructure necessary to support true hi-speed rail, as a green technology for America's future. So now does that mean you will rec the diary, smile!

      Also I hope you and some of the other posters will feel free to post information, and links about maglev. Thanks for extending yourself to comment.

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:16:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Screw hi-speed rail (9+ / 0-)

    We'll do what we always do. We'll get into yet another Endless Pointless War and spend all the taxpayer treasure dropping bombs on far away lands.

    We are still in Afganistan you know -- 14 years and counting.

    Long Live the MIC.


    It's just not fair. It's 98% of the Politicians that give the other 2% a bad name. (both parties)

    by CitizenOfEarth on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:31:45 AM PDT

    •  Besides, how can one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chico David RN

      "compensate" in public transportation the way one can in a lifted Dodge Ram 3500 dually? Expecting American men to ride trains is like taking away their Viagra.

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      When the rich have tripled their share of the income and wealth yet again, Republicans will still blame the poor and 3rd Way Democrats will still negotiate.

      by Words In Action on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:00:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not the man you're thinking of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chico David RN, Words In Action

        But I know that having a car, paying for parking, gas, repairs, etc would cost me $8- to $10,000 a year more than taking transit.

        Putting that ten grand in my pocket has a very, uh, stimulating effect on me.

        •  Neither am I. Forgot the snark tag. (0+ / 0-)

          Just talking about the shallow macho thinking we're up against.

          Trust, but verify. - Reagan
          Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

          When the rich have tripled their share of the income and wealth yet again, Republicans will still blame the poor and 3rd Way Democrats will still negotiate.

          by Words In Action on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:34:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think there is the "nut" of the conservative.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action, Woody

        response to rail - the idea that it is unmanly for an American male to travel in any way other than the most wasteful private vehicle possible - anything else - bike, transit, small car - is effeminate.

        "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

        by Chico David RN on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:23:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Certainly seen as (0+ / 0-)

          It's usually considered "un-white-manly" to take a bus. White folks in Atlanta joke -- but they aren't joking -- that the light rail system MARTA means Moving Africans Rapidly Thru Atlanta.

          Of course, if you get into the First Class section of the Acela, it reeks of money and power. But the hillbillies may think of the suits as efete and unmanly themselves.

          But then, black men do generally disdain transit, as well, calling buses "loser cruisers". They aspire to have cars like the white men, and why not.

          So I like to throw out saving $8 or $10 grand a year savings. That figure has a macho factor itself to appeal to blacks or whites.

  •  Don't be seduced by the socialist devil! (12+ / 0-)

    This is how he gets you, with seductive high-speed trains and all that other godless atheist socialistic devil-worshipping satanism!

    I mean, I bet you can't even get a decent fried Twinkie in one of them there fancy-shmancy European devil-train stations!

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:40:05 AM PDT

  •  One reason China is building high speed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norm in Chicago, wilywascal

    rail is that their "conventional" rail capacity has entirely been consumed by their ever increasing need to transport coal.

    At least we don't have that particular problem

  •  Took the Eurostar, London to Brussels last year... (8+ / 0-)

    went through the Chunnel... trip was a little over 2 hours! AWESOME! I'm happy to have done it in my lifetime... both sad and infuriating that WI had a chance 3 years ago to begin it's first steps with a line between Madison and Milwaukee and then, who knows?!? Chicago and beyond... along comes Snotty Walker ( the Biff Tannen of Wisconsin's own Backward to the Future Dystopia )... we ARE the 1950's here in Wisconsin... and gerrymandered to the point that a whole fleet of Feingolds and LaFollettes in DeLoreans will never be able to fix it....

    I digress... we MUST HAVE high speed rail in America.

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:03:44 AM PDT

    •  Me too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dood Abides

      WI resident who took the Eurostar London to Brussels last year.

      Most Americans don't travel. If they did, we'd have more people demanding high speed rail.

      They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

      by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:48:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  HSR (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a big fan of the concept of HSR. Hell, one of my favorite things to do at Disney World is to ride the Monorail. BUT, the problem is that people keep trying to build them in the wrong places or else do something that isn't really HSR. The Tampa-Orlando 'HSR' would have been a disaster. I hardly went faster than a car and would have got few riders except for the MCO-Disney leg. This thing out in CA is also a mess.
    Bite the bullet and build HRS (or the MagLev) in the northeast corridor. Oh, yes, I know it will cost more, but go big or go home. Spreading the money around like it was in the stimulus was only going to create a bunch of 1/4 loaves that wouldn't convince anybody that it was worth doing.

    Good girls shop. Bad girls shop. Shoppin', shoppin' from A to Z!

    by Zornorph on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:07:54 AM PDT

  •  All About Money (9+ / 0-)

    The Euros and Chinese are willing to spend money to build these systems.  We can't build anything big any more, because someone's TAXES might have to be raised!

  •  Some considerations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jay C

    Nearly every time I fly, I get a rental car at the airport. That's the way business is done. Without robust local mass transit, where would these trains take you?  To an airport?  Also what is the demand? If you build it they will come?  Detroit's train station shut down in the eighties. It now looks like a Roman ruin, or something out of Dresden after the war.

    Viable high speed rail is more than the trains and the tracks they ride on. It's destination infrastructure that accommodates train station porting. It's a way of life built on decades or centuries of socialized environment and more socialized government than we've had.

    Not that I don't love the idea. But there's a square peg-round hole reality that distinguishes train use between the old world and new. Trains lines here we're built for prospecting and goods transport, direct economic expansion. Not for moving literally armies of people.  We got the interstate highway system, the suburban sprawl that accompanied it, and a regional airports everyone can easily drive too.

    How does urban center train station meet the needs of sprawling metropolitan regions. Where ya gonna park?

    Me personally. It would fit my style perfectly. I live downtown, not afraid of people and like other downtowns. It would not at all fit my work travel, which is most of my travel. And I seriously question whether demand exists to justify it. I hope I'm wrong. Those trains are super cool.

  •  Throw in Spain for good measure (8+ / 0-)

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:18:14 AM PDT

    •  I've Been on That Train (7+ / 0-)

      From Madrid to Seville. I splurged and got a first-class ticket on the way there and then returned by train/bus via other cities. The first-class service was just superb, certainly better than first-class on an airplane.

      "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

      by bink on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:21:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For Example (6+ / 0-)

        Each compartment had a uniformed attendant, plus a waiter who came during meal service and served a three-course meal on china plates, with real silverware, wine-glasses, etc. It was nuts.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:38:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've been on that train, too. In September my (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shockwave, maybeeso in michigan

        husband and I took the high-speed train from Paris to Barcelona. We had to change trains at Figeroa for the last hour into Barcelona. The whole trip took just under six hours and was really cool. So much more relaxing than flying. And just for reference, the distance between Paris and Barcelona is a little more than the distance from Boston to Richmond, VA.

        HSR would be so practical for many parts of this country, especially the Northeast. If you could get from Boston to Philly in a couple of hours by rail who would go through the hassle of flying. On Amtrak that trip takes almost six hours.

    •  Funny personal incident there. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave

      My first experience with AVE, out of the gorgeous Atocha with its garden waiting/service area, I commented that I bet the Spanish weren't up to Japanese standards where a brass plaque with car and seat numbers marks the spot the door opens for that car and seats on that end of the car and the train begins to move as the minute hand hits the departure minute.

      Wrong. The mark was slightly larger than the brass plaques I remember, green paint or tile (can't remember which) and yes, the door opened for the proper seats exactly opposite the green mark. And, yes, I watched the seconds tick down to 59 and at 0 I could see the station start to slip away.

      I hope Spaniards aren't into the suicide culture for late arrivals. Back in the sixties I was in Tokyo when there was some glitch and a late train made the news as did the honorable suicide of the responsible party. Still, they do run on time in my experience.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:32:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our alleged governor in FL turned down federal (3+ / 0-)

    dollars for a Tampa - Orlando hi-speed rail because of tea party something something….

    "You are what you write, not what you look like."

    by PHScott on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:24:31 AM PDT

  •  Well, if the rest of the world is doing it, (4+ / 0-)

    we certainly won't get involved! (F"@king socialism, mumble, mumble, mumble).

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:27:15 AM PDT

    •  Because 'MURKA, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost and Found, Smoh

      FUCK yeah!

      U - S - A!!! U - S - A!!! U - S - A!!! U - S - A!!! U - S - A!!!

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:19:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Black Man in the White House (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Smoh, Jay C

      The Tea Party, and the Repub Party it controls, is against anything that the black man is for.

      Lucky for us that Obama has not yet spoken out in favor of Motherhood or Apple Pie.

      He has spoken out in favor of Peace, and Better Lives for ordinary citizens, Mercy for Children of immigrants etc. The Haters are against all of that.

      And of course, the Haters are against better trains because . . .

  •  Your pictures are very misleading (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DavidMS, ranger995, chopper, terrypinder

    In the pictures above comparing the trains of Russia, Germany, France,  China and Japan's to the USA's you compared their HSR to our regular Amtrak engines. This is comparing apples to oranges
    you should have run a picture of (Acela see below) but that would hardly look so dramatic, would it?
    you just can't play it straight
     photo 300px-Acela_old_saybrook_ct_summer20111_zpsa0ed86fe.jpg

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:30:42 AM PDT

    •  to exlrrp - you are an obvious liar (9+ / 0-)

      First of all Acela runs on a fraction of less than 1% of all US rail lines and then it only moves at less than half of the speed of true hi-speed rail, even on the best parts of the track. You can't buy a pretty locomotive and put it on an antique 1950's rail system and expect anything to come out of that that doesn't look like a joke! Compared to the rest of the world that has spent hundreds of billions on hi-speed rail networks. So I can't tell if you are mis-informed or deliberately lying, but I suspect the latter rather than the former given your trolling history on my diaries.  

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:37:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ACELA is only available on WA DC/Boston corridor (7+ / 0-)

        It doesn't run anywhere else in the country. For the most part the Acela can never go at true hi-speed rail speeds, because there is no true hi-speed rail track laid from Washington DC to Boston. Therefore it is a pretty train that goes slow. The important thing is it is only available on that narrow corridor and no where else is the Acela available. I had a friend take the Acela recently and he told me during large parts of the ride, trucks and cars would overtake the Acela where it ran parallel to highways. Where true hi-speed rail can move well over 200 mph.

        We're moving backwards and America deserves better than that.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

        by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:44:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The part about being passed by cars and trucks (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, Lost and Found

          I can vouch thats true, notably in parts of Connecticut where the ACELA shares track with local commuter trains.

        •  Excellent pair of responses. (3+ / 0-)

          Keep up the good work. :-)

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:50:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  False. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DavidMS, Superpole, ranger995, emelyn, chopper

          I really wish you'd read some of the Sunday Train columns before writing this, because the need to invest in true HSR is valid. You are just uneducated about rail infrastructure.

          The tracks for the Acela are high speed capable, and are constantly being maintained.

          In some locations, the overhead caternary is not capable of supporting high speeds.

          But the power source (25 kV, 50 Hz), rail gauge, so, construction (concrete ties and continuous welded rail) are identical.

          I took the high speed rail from Amsterdam to Paris. It was wonderful, except we crawled through Belgium, and never achieved a speed 15 mph greater than Acela.


          ODS results in Obama's amazing ability to humiliate his biggest critics, on the right and the left.

          by NoFortunateSon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:18:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No, you are very disingenuous. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranger995, emelyn, exlrrp, Sychotic1

        The Northeast corridor is 734 km. Thats longer than the high speed rail in operation in many European countries. Many EU countries don't even have a single km of high speed rail.

        There is no denying that the US needs to invest more in HSR.

        But as usual, you have taken a highly valid point and drowned it in a facile argument.


        ODS results in Obama's amazing ability to humiliate his biggest critics, on the right and the left.

        by NoFortunateSon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:13:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Its you who make a false equivalency, as usual (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yoshimi

        why doesn't your picture show Acela, if its as bad as you say it is? Which is comparable to HSR in Europe. Because you don't want to show what the US actually has, doesn't fit your meme..
        No worries, I only check your diaries whenever I want to know what Der Spiegel has to say about things.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 04:15:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is his meme. I bet he has not been to the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emelyn, exlrrp, Yoshimi

      US in years, and has never ridden the train here. At least this time, he posted modern pictures of our regular trains. Last time he posted pictures of 1980s diesel engines and compared them to modern day European trains, which funny enough look just like our modern Amtrak trains, which I use a lot.

      I have taken the train in both Europe and the US. I think they are quite comparable. There is the problem that at times the tracks have to be shared by freight and passenger in the US, which slows the trains down, but look how friggin' big the US is compared to Germany. It takes a long long time to put in the rails.

      Additionally, in several places they are building high speed lines. For example, the rails from Chicago to St. Louis have recently been added to so that the train runs at about 193 kmh (120 mph) to about Springfield. They are now expanding toward St Louis and it should all be complete soon. The train ride is now faster than the car ride, even with the stops.  

      Lastly, he doesn't mention how expensive the trains are in Europe. Even the regular lines are very costly. We ended up renting a car in France last year because it was much cheaper than taking the trains. The high speed trains are much more expensive than flying. Just compare the chunnel line to flights from Paris to London. Only rich people can afford the high speed trains.

      At least in the US trains are affordable for the most part. My experience with Amtrak has been excellent. I can even afford to travel business class most times and it costs less than driving and I can get work done.

      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

      by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:16:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I want better trains too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranger995

        And I have been a railfan all my life.
        Anyone really interested in finding out with what's going on with Acela, which does exist, contrary to the photos above, should read this article in the latest Trains magazine.
        Its written by Americans actually living in America and, unlike this diary, does not omit pictures of American HSR (slow as it is)
         photo 20140316_1826581_zps01d51f05.jpg

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:35:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That being said, I do support the idea of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IseFire

      contacting our politicians to push for more rail lines and updating the ones we have.

      Several Obama initiatives are doing just that, Chicago (a rail line hub) is seeing major infrastructure changes.

      There is a lot of work to do, and it doesn't help that Republican governors have rejected federal programs to expand rail line services in several states.

      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

      by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:35:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Only somewhat misleading. (0+ / 0-)

      The picture does show China's highest speed trains vs. America's slower trains, and that is indeed unfair.

      However, the general theme is correct. Other countries high speed trains are better than America's, and other countries secondary trains are often better than America's too.

      I live in the east, where we have much of the older equipment, because we can't use the double level cars used in the west. This is due to many outmoded low intersections and tunnels in the east (infrastructure improvements needed).

      I've ridden the Acela Express, and it's OK, but not as nice as the high speed trains in other countries. I've also ridden a couple of Europe's (ICE in Germany, Pendolino in Switzerland, etc.), and also Japan's bullet train, and all of those are nicer trains.  Not only are the trains nicer, but the service is more frequent.

      For local service too, local trains and non-high speed trains I've ridden in other countries are generally better than what we have in the US, or at least the older equipment I ride on in the east (I have ridden a bit in the west too, and the equipment I saw there was somewhat better).

  •  Well presented and argued. (5+ / 0-)

    I have used Amtrak before and found the experience quite good. Not as good as the services hi-speed rail offers, obviously, but it was still far better than making a long drive by automobile.

    Interestingly, Scott Walker declined to federal money for high-speed rail Democrats would have accepted. From the Huff Post, this also covers Rick Scott's lame decision in Florida:

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won election in 2010, in large part by campaigning fiercely on limited government. One of his signature promises was a rejection of $810 million in federal stimulus dollars for high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison.

    Walker followed through on turning those dollars down. But now, he is joining several other Midwestern states in asking for $150 million in federal funds to pay for upgrades to an Amtrak line.

    In a striking irony, the funds he's requesting are only available because another conservative governor, Rick Scott of Florida, rejected some $2 billion for a high-speed rail project in his state. That line would have joined Tampa and Orlando along a busy corridor whose Interstate 4 is often packed with traffic.

    •  AND.....? (0+ / 0-)

      What are the voters in WI going to DO about this nonsense?

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:38:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wisconsin and Florida (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1864 House, NoMoreLies

        I know Dems are pretty active in Wisconsin, but the problem is the state has grown more conservative, and there is the usual gerrymandering and voter suppression that goes with a Republican administration and legislature. The Florida situation I am not as familiar with.

        •  We are working to get rid of Walker (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilywascal, Eric Nelson, NoMoreLies

          For this and a hundred other reasons.

          They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

          by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:25:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Florida is a single-party state (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilywascal

          We're so gerrymandered here that a horse could get elected in most districts if it ran on a GOP ticket.

          That will inevitably change, as the longerm demographics here are not friendly to the GOP--but in the meantime we can't do anything and the Goppers can do anything they want.

          We can win statewide elections here (we have an edge in statewide voter reg), but the local legislative districts are locked up.

          Don't look for that to change for at least a couple more cycles.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:49:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  He didn't get that extra money either (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies

      Other states were more deserving. Wisconsin remains out of luck.

      -----------------------

      Not that Wisconsin has been hopeless.

      Back before the Crazy, Gov Tommy Thompson was a big supporter of better trains service in WI and thru-out the Midwest. In particular, he'd pushed the plan to connect Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago. Then he ran for Senator, and reversed course on rail, to be on a parallel track with Gov Walker.

      Thompson lost that Senate race.

      When the newspaper editors rewrite and update his obituary, it will be shorter. They'll just cut the paragraphs about his efforts to improve access to rail.

      Tommy Thompson FAIL.

  •  Hey, we cant even bother to put our utilities (6+ / 0-)

    underground, like a civilized country, but instead run our phone, electric, TV, etc along poles like Xmas tree lights. So they get knocked down every time the weather is bad (like, every week now). Because thats the Free Enterprise System (c) in action and the Magic of the Market. Hooray for us!

  •  Report from another ex-pat (7+ / 0-)

    The Mexican government recently signed a deal for a high-speed rail line from Mexico City to Toluca. It should be completed in 2017, so Mexico will have high-speed rail before California does.

    OK, this is a short line. However, a similar deal for a Mexico City to Queretaro line should be signed any day now. This will almost certainly be extended to Guadalajara in the future, and officials in the State of Guanajuato are already lobbying for an extension to León.

  •  Rail Doesn't Compete with Air Travel (6+ / 0-)

    But with the car.

    Yes -- the current situation sucks. The next generation will build this infrastructure for us, however, because they do not own private cars, certainly not in the way that Boomer-aged policymakers do:

    http://business.time.com/...

    Car ownership has always been expensive and inconvenient. The prestige system of the generations that came of age in the decades following World War II, however, demanded that you owned a car, or you were perceived as lower-class or even a pariah.

    This is no longer the case.

    The younger generation is fleeing the suburbs, returning to the cities and demanding more transit options. They will build these high-speed trains.

    I think the biggest resistance to them right now is simply older voters who are worried about infrastructure spending being diverted from road-building and maintenance to a new type of transportation that they do not intend to use.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:18:21 AM PDT

    •  Also not true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bink, pelagicray, Sychotic1

      Rail competes both with air and car.

      As an example, in the Northeast Corridor, rail competes (and competes favorably) with regional air shuttles. Believe it or not, a lot of people do fly from New York to Washington, or Washington to Boston. But a lot more people take the train. If Northeast Corridor rail service ended today, the airlines would not have the capacity to take up the slack.

      I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

      by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:33:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, for us it does (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies, Sychotic1

        Due to the cost and hassle of flight, we prefer to drive for our vacations whenever possible.

        Atlanta to Sarasota would be a 1.5-2.0 hour flight at most.  However, it would take us an extra 3-4 hours by car on top of that to get to the airport from where we live in Athens, and to get through TSA.  And once we'd emerge on the other side, we would have to rent a car anyway. It takes us about eight hours to drive from here to there.

        So the time savings of flight is much, much lower once you add in the TSA wasted time and the time through Atlanta traffic to get to the airport.

        If we had the option of taking a light commuter rail to Atlanta and then hopping on a bullet train to Tampa - and using mass transit down there -  we'd do it in a heartbeat.

        As it is, Amtrak doesn't go that far south, and the nearest Amtrak station is an hour away in Gainesville.

        The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

        by catwho on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:12:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would add that the Gainesville station ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1

          ... like mine in Ocala, is only served by an Amtrak-contracted Thruway bus.

          Thank Southern Railway (now Norfolk-Southern) for the lack of service between Atlanta and Florida. When Amtrak was formed in 1971, Southern opted out, continuing to operate their own train (Southern Crescent) between New Orleans and Washington, D.C., and denying Amtrak access to Atlanta for its Florida-Chicago service, The Floridian. Eventually Southern did let Amtrak take over the Crescent, but there's still no north-south passenger service through Atlanta — a major gap that needs to be filled to create a true national network.

          Atlanta should be a rail hub, just as it is an air hub.

          I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

          by ObamOcala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:18:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I See.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies

      so you can credibly claim that everyone who flies in the current cattle car airliners, which are often not on schedule, and which are getting more and more expensive.. everyone in the U.S. thinks the airline companies are wonderful? terrific? a great way to travel?

      gimme a break, please.

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:36:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They Are Awful (4+ / 0-)

        I do not think rail, even high-speed rail, is competitive with air travel for trips, for example, from New York to San Francisco or Boston to Los Angeles.

        A European would not, for example, book rail travel from Paris to Moscow unless he or she was seeking an adventure of some kind, or had a special need that could not be served by plane. The booking would be more expensive than a plane, less convenient and take far more time.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:44:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Air travel is better for long distances, but once (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1864 House

          you factor in the drive to the airport, the check-in, the security lines, etc., a good HSR system would make  sense for shorter, city-to-city trips like Boston to DC, or Orlando to Miami.

        •  That's right for transcontinental flights (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoMoreLies

          But - as you know - there is a great deal of shorter air travel in the US where the train could compete very nicely.  I think for most folks who are not either train buffs or afraid of flying, the break point is somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 miles.  When you add in TSA time, early arrival time, getting to the airport time, etc., distances shorter than that can be faster and more efficient by train.  Much longer than that, I think air travel will continue to win.  And it does need a fairly densely populated corridor to work.  But there are a bunch of those to be found.

          "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

          by Chico David RN on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:33:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Tell the airlines that (0+ / 0-)

      because here in California, it is the airlines that are acting threatened.

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:26:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our Nation is Run By Monopolies (5+ / 0-)

    In this case-- it's the auto industry and the airlines who don't want us ti have high speed rail.

    The huge disconnects with this are:

    1.) we citizens here are supposed to have choices. instead, we have limited choices for travel, since we don't have a true high speed rail system.

    2.) The one percent, who allegedly worship daily at the altar of the free market, don't like or want competition.. one of the foundational planks of the very very free market system. see: Chomsky.

    3.) By limiting, stopping the free market in the TRAVEL sector, the one percent is actually hampering economic growth/job growth in our nation.

    There are plenty of people who don't like to fly in the current cattle cars that pass for airliners. it's expensive and about to get MORE expensive thanks to consolidation/monopolization of the industry to what eventually? Two major airlines?

    If we had the Minneapolis to Miami north-south high speed rail that I advocate, the amount of travel between cities on the route would explode. the demand for hotel rooms, people eating at restaurants, people going to sporting events, would be huge.

    BEENGO! economic growth that benefits US ALL; not just the feeble one percent.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:33:48 AM PDT

  •  You lie! (10+ / 0-)

    The diarist who claims our rail infrastructure is comparable to the 1950's is telling a big fat stinking lie!  In the 1950's, our rail systems were well maintained, and everything ran smoothly for the most part.  Today, many of our railways are poorly maintained, especially in open areas, and trains have to slow down in these poorly maintained zones to avoid derailing, and in some cases get passed by cars in speed.  So in reality, it's more like 1920's rail travel.

    •  Good reverse! You are in fact I think correct. (3+ / 0-)

      Rail travel was more organized and comparatively high speed in the 1950 and has in many ways gotten worse, though Amtrak can be very nice.

      One example. In the 1950s passenger trains had priority. Ah, how many times have I sat in my car on a siding, sometimes for a good part of an hour so that a freight with priority can get the single track!

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:41:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  more places were served in the 1920s (0+ / 0-)

      1880s rail travel, perhaps?

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

      by terrypinder on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:48:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is who we used to be . . . (11+ / 0-)

    This is the kind of project that America used to do (think of Eisenhower and the interstate highway system, or the TVA, or going to the moon) but that we've given up on because we've drained our resources on idiotic wars and hyperthyroid defense systems.

    This is the kind of project that we used to do before we listened to Reagan's fatuous "government is the problem"

    This is the kind of project we used to do before we fell prey to the delusion that big business will always do things better, and somehow have our best interests at heart.

    This is the kind of project we used to do before we forgot who we are.

    "One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others." - Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898

    by Audio Guy on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:38:24 AM PDT

  •  I am a frequent traveler to Spain (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1864 House, Woody

    as I have family there and enjoy those same traits you speak of for the rest of the EU.  There are also secondary trains that are a little slower because they make frequent stops, but they do the job very well.

  •  I was fortunate enough to have traveled through (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    Europe twice - a month each time.  I loved rail travel.  I would do the Dart thing here in Dallas, but I have to do two buses and the rail, and it will take about an hour and a half.  I can drive it in 25 minutes.  

    I do have a question, however, one that never dawned on me previously.  What do they do about various critters wandering onto the tracks when they are going at those speeds?  Could be disastrous for all involved.  

    I would love to go from DFW to ATL by train without having to see Chicago or Memphis...  Also, need to go to Denver.  Could I take the pups??  

    I would love to see train travel here.  Isn't that what our previously rich people did?  Built train lines, or steamers or invested in infrastructure.  Am I showing my ignorance - or are the rich now just socking it away and hoping the government shows up to do the work so they can complain about the government interference?

    Waiting for them to decide that the middle class doesn't have enough cents to vote...

    by Old Woman on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:41:51 AM PDT

  •  American business had the same response (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill in Portland Maine

    to HSR that they did to hybrids.

    "Why should we do that? We're profiting just fine by doing what we're already doing. And doubling down on it. And tripling down on it."

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:00:50 AM PDT

  •  America is behind the rest of the world (6+ / 0-)

    in everything except military spending and incarceration rates.

    Thank you, Ronald Reagan.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:04:29 AM PDT

  •  Good timing of this post. (5+ / 0-)

    Five years ago last Friday....

    New England travelers should benefit from faster, more frequent and safer train travel with an extra $1.3 billion pumped into the long-struggling Amtrak, half of it directed to the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, the Obama administration announced yesterday

    Amtrak, never a favorite of the Bush administration or Republican Congresses, has struggled to retain critical federal subsidies in recent years.  But the $787 billion stimulus package recently signed by President Obama will allow the system to renovate trains and stations, improve safety systems, and provide more passenger capacity, administration officials said. ...

    "Amtrak has been left out---in my opinion, much too long," said Biden, who estimated that he has taken 7,000 trips on the rail line, most of them between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Del.

    Five years later, how is that working out?  I know Republican governors have nixed funds for high-speed rail out of pure spite for Obama.  I hope the money was diverted elsewhere.

    Up here in Maine our slow-poke Brunswick to Boston  Downeaster line is nevertheless very popular.  A real Amtrak success story.

    -

  •  As long as there are Republicans in Congress (3+ / 0-)

    Not only will we not ever have true high-speed rail, but we won't even get the modest improvements in our current rail system that DavidMS and others propose.

    Why? Because the Republican Party has been completely taken over by men and women who are irredeemably hostile to any and all government activity and initiatives, no matter how much they benefit the common good.

    And that is because the Republican Party is controlled at the top by men and women who hate the public commons and those who inhabit it—i.e., everybody outside the 1%.

  •  It isn't just high-speed rail (5+ / 0-)

    The condition of our regular rail is deteriorating.
      And considering that rail is much more energy efficient than trucks, this is a very bad thing.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:24:07 AM PDT

    •  And many trains are unreliable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, NoMoreLies

      The Empire Builder heading east has 0% on time stats. Sometimes it's just a half hour late; sometimes 12-14 hours (yes HOURS) late.

      They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

      by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:21:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The rails in my state are not state owned (0+ / 0-)

      so, unlike the State and National Highway System, there is no tax money for that, although we do double track in places and we have done some grade separations (that is when you physically separate the road from the rail so there are less fatalities.)

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:30:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have a small confession to make. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1864 House, Sychotic1

    I really like the old Amtrak Superliners and diesel locomotives. They have character. I took one from Seattle to LA a few years ago,

    But high-speed rail is more practical, yes.

    Obama: Pro-Pentagon, pro-Wall Street, pro-drilling, pro-fracking, pro-KXL, pro-surveillance. And the only person he prosecuted for the U.S. torture program is the man who revealed it. Clinton: More of the same.

    by expatjourno on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:56:54 AM PDT

  •  Excellent post, thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova, reflectionsv37

    Here I am, now. Entertain me.

    by blueoregon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:09:09 AM PDT

  •  We really need a combination of light rail and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1864 House, NoMoreLies

    HSR in this country.  As someone stated, the vast majority of our terrain is perfect for it.  Companies are tearing out existing rail lines because they're not 'profitable' enough, or they don't want to deal with the communities that have built up around them, or other reasons.  In some areas these abandoned rail lines have been turned into 'nature' trails, or exercise lanes.

    We need to invest in this or we're consigning ourselves to at best a 2nd world status.  But 'we' won't because our gov't has been bought and paid for by the mega corporations that feel that if there's no immediate return on investment, then it's not worth the effort.  We used to pride ourselves on our ingenuity, daring, and willingness to take risks.  Now, if it's not a sure bet to great profits, why bother???  What a shame.

  •  Thank You - N/T (0+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:39:34 AM PDT

  •  I have high speed rail experience (5+ / 0-)

    Both on the Shinkansen and the Eurostar.

    I also have frequent Amtrak experience... and I want to weep every time I get on the Amtrak from my town in WI to Chicago (last week it was 12 hours late and Amtrak provided a coach bus to passengers whose schedules couldn't accommodate that delay).

    In Japan, people commute daily on the Shinkansen; think about how connecting small cities to urban areas would create new employment markets for workers and busnesses. All Americans should ride high speed rail at least once because we would be demanding it.

    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

    by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:13:19 AM PDT

    •  How could our experiences be so different? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1864 House

      I live in Chicago, and use the Amtrak all the time. I have an Amtrak Guest Rewards account. The most my train has ever been late is 30 minutes, and that is for a 6 hour ride. The trains are modern and usually the problem is not that the train can't move fast, it is that the rails are shared with freight trains and our train has to slow down because of freight trains.

      On several lines, that is not a problem anymore, because they have installed new tracks. Chicago-St Louis for example.

      I have also ridden the train in Europe, and I have never had a problem there either. I never have taken the ultra fast trains, because they are too expensive, but the regular trains are very similar to my Amtrak experience.

      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

      by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:01:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The trains out of Chicago (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranger995

        are almost always on time.

        The Empire Builder into Chicago has a 0% on time rate. The flow of tanker cars out of ND oil fields has seriously impacted the passenger trains.

        I love the train experience. I have just learned that if I have to be in Chicago for something in the evening (train is supposed to arrive at 4:15 pm) I now leave the day before.

        They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

        by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:10:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's the real problem as I see it. Not that our (0+ / 0-)

          trains are too old or not modern enough, but that we need a lot more track. The increase in Freight lines has caused a lot of traffic. Unfortunately, our government also sold the tracks off to private companies, and they get to decide who gets preference.

          As far as I can tell, a lot of new tracks are planned or are in the process of construction. Unfortunately for you, your governor refused money to do this. Crazy.

          One problem that DR doesn't really get is the amount of tracks that have to be laid in the US compared to Europe. The distances dwarf those in Europe.

          "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

          by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:17:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure I agree about the distance (0+ / 0-)

            It would be harder to lay new track into cities; when you fly, you look down and realize how much of America is undeveloped land. Laying new track would be relatively easy cross country compared to the process involved in getting HSR into city centers - where it really needs to terminate.

            Yes, it would be costly. But I see it as an investment that would create jobs and energy efficient travel alternatives.

            With increased ridership, more trains could be added to the schedule. I grew up in Chicago and I'll date myself; I remember when there were multiple options on the schedule and today there is one train in and out to the northwest each day. That makes it difficult when time is limited. I leave La Crosse WI (theoretically) at 10:45 am and arrive at 4:15 pm. That's an entire work day devoted to travel. If there was a train leaving at 5 pm and arriving at 10, or 4 am and arriving at 9 am (I get up that early to get a 6 am flight) it would make the train a more realistic business travel option.

            They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

            by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:37:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The distance between Lacrosse WI and Chicago, IL (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              1864 House

              is 281.5 miles. The distance between Hamburg and Berlin is 158.15 miles.

              The distance between Hamburg and Munich is only 481 miles.

              The distance between NY - Chicago = 806 miles

              Chicago to New Orleans = 900 miles

              Chicago to Seattle = 2063 miles

              New York to Los Angeles = 2808 miles

              Paris to Moscow = 1754 miles.

              You see what I am getting at here? We have to lay thousands of miles of track in a way that makes it economically feasible. We have freight lines that depend heavily on the track system.

              We need to be building new tracks. Not complaining about how crappy our trains are. Our trains are fine.

              "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

              by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:51:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Tokyo to Kyoto = 285 miles (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ranger995, IseFire

                On the Shinkansen, it takes about 3 hours, not the 5 hours the same distance takes on the Amtrak. And the trains are on time.

                Three hours would rival the time it takes to fly to Chicago (arriving at least an hour before the flight, hour in the air, hour getting downtown from O'Hare) without all the horrors of flying. I think that's what it will take to increase demand for train travel.

                The Eurostar from London to Brussels takes two hours. City center to city center. No way I could have taken a flight in that time. I know people who have a longer one-way commute than that here in the US.

                I have no problems with Amtrak trains themselves and I agree we need more track. The current trains are comfortable and a civilized way to travel. But they really don't compare to HSR. With HSR, I could (theoretically) work in Minneapolis-St Paul and be home every night.

                P.S. This is a little thing, but I think it speaks to thoughtful design. On the Shinkansen, there are two seats on one side of the aisle and three seats on the other. The middle seat on the three-seat side is 8 inches wider than the other seats (I measured), providing an advantage for what would otherwise be a less desireable seat. Airlines could learn something there.

                They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

                by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:26:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's only the first step though. DR makes it like (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  1864 House

                  there are no plans for any HSR. There are, but it takes time to build thousands of miles of track. The initial phases of this plan are already happening in places where the governors will allow it, e.g., Chicago - St Louis.

                  I would like to point out that the thousands of miles of HSR China tracks are still just plans. We have some great plans too, and some of it is being implemented.

                  USHSR

                  "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

                  by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:33:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Also, the populations of Kyoto and Tokyo make (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  1864 House

                  that line economically feasible. Comparable cities are New York and Chicago, three times the distance.

                  "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

                  by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:44:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And a dearth of private vehicles in Japan (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ranger995

                    We do love our cars here in the US.

                    I will allow that great middle swath of the country from the Mississippi to the Rockies might not support HSR, but cities like St Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville immediately come to mind as stops.

                    The route from Kyoto to Tokyo is not non-stop.

                    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

                    by 1864 House on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:17:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I am not trying to argue against it. I want HSR. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      1864 House

                      I like riding the train. What I don't like is that DR seems to think if we want to build trains, they can pop up like mushrooms. His "Europe and Japan" have them, so why not us? Is not really fair.

                      I mostly agree with you. We should already have fast lines up and down the east coast and between large cities that cover short distances (Chicago-Detroit). We are working on it. As I said before, they are nearly finished with the lines between Chicago and St Louis. It really depends on who accepted the stimulus founds.

                      Thanks for the convo

                      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

                      by ranger995 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:42:35 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  "Why Nobody Likes the Middle Seat" (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  1864 House

                  WNYC aired a story this morning on "Why Nobody Likes the Middle Seat." It concerns passengers' commuter rail experiences.

            •  I hate to break this to you (0+ / 0-)

              but in the 1930s and early 40's, never mind the 1950s the US intercity passenger rail system was much better than it is today in areas outside the Northeast Corridor. Three railroads; the Burlington Route, Milwaukee Road, and Chicago and Northwestern ran crack streamlined passenger trains over the Chicago to Minneapolis route, with two of the three routing through LaCrosse. The Burlington Twin Zephyr in 1938 made your current 5 1/2 hour trip in 4 1/2 hours, a full hour faster. Your 10:45 train you take now if on 1938 timings would have left at 10:28 and arrived at 3:00. The Milwaukee Road Hiawatha, also in 1938, was even faster, with a train leaving LaCrosse at 3:19 pm and making Chicago Union Station at 7:30 with a trip time of 4 hours and 11 minutes. That translates to an average speed of 66.9 miles per hour, including three intermediate stops, faster than the current legal speed limit over the interstate and a trip impossible to make by car at that timing today. There is a site, called Streamliner Schedules, that documents the amazing speed at which US rail ran in the 1930s and 1940s.

  •  The aerodynamics of that Amtrack train (0+ / 0-)

    tell a lot of the story.

    Some with ground level grade crossings.

    We could spend the money to put in a high speed rail system in the US. But then, where would we get the money to bail out our billionaire banksters? Damn, they generate a lot of "toxic" "assets" to "repurchase." Priorities, everyone!

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:22:03 AM PDT

  •  Given (0+ / 0-)

    the obstinance of Congress and the unlikely possibility of any consensus on the issue of HRS, the US should explore different paths to get a national system. Pre-sell the track running rights for short haul flights.... the slots American, United and American/US Air have at DCA, BOS and LGA should be shifted to the HSR lines. Lufthansa does this for its short haul flights. Encourage billionaires with big pockets and egos to have their own rail lines.. like Branson has Virgin Rail in the UK. Trump could have his and Musk could build his pnuematic tube transporter. America has lots of billionaires with egos. Personally, I don't care if the train is called Amtrak, or TrumpRail or VirginRail...I just want HRS. Given our COngress is useless on the matter and we have lots of egos that would love to go head to head with each other , just like airline moguls do, lets use what we have. Rail in the US is doable... just come at it from the non traditional way.

  •  I took the EuroStar (0+ / 0-)

    from London to Paris, admittedly several years ago. There was a security check-in and examination of both person and baggage, although it was done pretty much in a civil fashion.

    That may have been because you'd be crossing via the Channel tunnel, or just an excess of caution on the part of the Brits.

    Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:31:06 AM PDT

    •  Because you're crossing borders (0+ / 0-)

      They need to check passports and all the other customs crap. UK isn't part of the Schengen Area like much of Europe.

      When I took the Eurostar, going to Paris from London, the French customs guy was talking on the phone in the booth and just waving people though. Returning to London, UK customs was checking everyone and their passports closely.

      I guess the French guy figured that everyone entering France via Eurostar was either a British citizen, or already passed through British border patrol whenever they entered the UK, and if they were good enough to get past the Brits, they're good enough to enter France.

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:53:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yet, on a trip a bit later (0+ / 0-)

        that stopped in Dublin en route to Glasgow, I went through customs in Dublin but nothing in Glasgow. No checking, I was told, "because you're in the E.U. now."

        Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

        by Mnemosyne on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:01:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Americans Deserve Poor Transportation (0+ / 0-)

    You don't invest in the public good, you get what the "free market" dictates. Private jets for the 0.1%, traffic jammed potholed highways for the 99%. You get what you pay for. Enjoy your historically low taxes while you sit in your car.
    At least you can still breathe the air, unlike China.

    We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. - Rick Santorum

    by easong on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:06:01 PM PDT

  •  NIMBYs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yoshimi

    To create a high-speed rail network, the state would have to acquire right of ways over private property, or tunnels would have to be dug (expensive). Imagine the uproar community groups would engage in and concede that there isn't enough political capital to get the job done. Particularly since we already have airports and airplanes.

  •  Sort of the mentality we're up against in the US: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, cbabob

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:27:58 PM PDT

  •  Trains are $$$ (0+ / 0-)

    High speed trains will never happen in the current atmosphere of DC.  

    The Dems (specifically Obama) are so obsessed with spending cuts that they would never even propose such an ambitious project.  The GOP would call such a project socialism anyway, and Obama would never do anything that would upset the GOP.  Social Security cuts are the most important thing to Obama, not high speed rail and keeping up with the rest of the world.  

     

  •  We will never do anything great until... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher, roberb7

    We finally defeat the far right in this country. How the hell can you do anything worthwhile or useful when you cant even repair a bridge that's coming apart without a HUGE argument about money--the same argument we never have if it's about a tank, plane, etc.

  •  Loved High Speed Rail in France (3+ / 0-)

    My husband and I took high speed rail last year from Paris to Lyon and then from Lyon to Marseille. We looked at all the various ways to do these trips and decided high speed rail would be the fastest and cheapest. We were not disappointed. I discovered that I would have to identify the first day of ticket sales for the trains we wanted to take, and then get online to make our reservations as quickly as possible. These trains are very popular in France.

    We are looking forward to more high speed rail trips in Europe. These trips were much more pleasant than our air travel experiences, plus, we were able to see so much of the beautiful French countryside as we traveled south.

    I would love to have access to similar trains here in the US. We would love to be able to take high speed rail to cities we like to visit -- Chicago, New York, for example. Here in Ohio, our Republican governor had a chance to use Federal dollars to improve passenger rail and the idiot turned it down.

    Thanks for an interesting diary.

    "...in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy." Matt Taibbi

    by Getreal1246 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:19:17 PM PDT

  •  Rec'd, Tip'd, Tweeted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher

    Simply a terrific read.

    Thank you for writing!


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:59:57 PM PDT

  •  Democrat Ramshield now makes me want (3+ / 0-)

    to take a trip Berlin - Hamburg - Koeln - Paris - London and backl and enjoy every minute of it. Time to go home for a visit.

  •  Three economies in competition (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, rodentrancher, Lupin

    China, the European Union and the US are competing to be the leaders. We are failing miserably and are falling rapidly to third place. We just don't realize it because we listen to our own, isolated, press who are listening to our own jingoistic bloviating politicians. American exceptionalism?.

    The EU is currently in first place, that's right, both in economic measures and in technologies, such as HSR. The US is second, but China is moving so fast that they will overtake all of us. What we don't appreciate is the scale of China's advancement. It is staggering. Take a good look at that railway picture.

    I visited China two years ago. Friends I met visited recently and said that the progress above what I saw was amazing. I rode on HSR from Beijing to Tianjin at over 300 kph. It truly blew me away. The run from Beijing to Shanghai was completed ahead of schedule and was a civil engineering masterpiece. It includes the world's longest bridge and the world's second longest bridge. I got a chance to meet one of the engineers on that project. He was really smart and a very nice person.

    We are truly fucked, and it is of our own making. Just sit back and watch, but don't say that I didn't tell you.

  •  Don't forget Italy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher

    300 km/h on the trip to Rome from Milan...... and from Rome to Naples.

    Not the entire journey obviously, but our son loved watching the speedometer creep up to full speed in 2012.

    And the self-service ticket kiosks were wonderful to use.

    Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as shall never be put out.

    by Bollox Ref on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:40:00 PM PDT

  •  I hate you DR 8^) (0+ / 0-)

    For reminding me how good it could be...  I read your post before I got my wife loaded on to the Amtrak Cascades for the ride from Portland, OR to Everett, WA.  The 200 mile trip is scheduled to take 5 hours.  With stops that's an average of 40 miles per hour!  She was delayed for a hour, because of mudslides near Edmonds, WA.  

    Yep, all the HSR money we got from Florida, is going into mud control.  A big part of the scam that Great Northern used to outsmart Rockefeller's land scheme (Everett, WA) was to run the tracks along the edge of the Puget Sound from Everett to Seattle. So the tracks are at the bottom of unstable cliffs that often slide in March due to the rains.  

    The goal for high speed rail in Washington is 79 miles per hour.  Marty and Doc Brown would have died here in 1885 cause the train couldn't go fast enough....

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:55:30 PM PDT

  •  Americans are getting SCREWED when it comes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, rodentrancher

    to intercity transportation. Europeans (myself included as a dual citizen) can travel on high-speed trains (sometimes even business or first class) for less than the cost of an Amtrak "Northeast Regional" ticket in the States. Moreover, the competitive pressures of trains on airlines means that flying in Europe, while less convenient than taking the train, is about 50% cheaper than flying a similar distance in the USA.

    Climate change? Nobody's getting from Cleveland to Chicago on the MegaBus in an era of insane winter storms.

    Sorry, folks, but America is already DONE and DONE...unless it engages in a robust Depression-era infrastructure program...NOW.

  •  Boy o' Boy, does that speak volumes... /nt (0+ / 0-)

    * * * DONATE/VOLUNTEER: Marianne Williamson for CA-33 * * * #CampaignFinanceReform is the lynchpin of our democracy. #AIKIDOPROVERBMoveSoonerNotFaster ~

    by ArthurPoet on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 12:10:23 AM PDT

  •  NASCAR (0+ / 0-)

    At 186 mph maybe people would be more supportive if trains had numbers on the side and were painted like NASCAR racers.

  •  Great Read... (0+ / 0-)

    But, until China gets rid of the pollution, then I see no reason to glorify their substituting one good for a bad.

    However, for the US, anything that will help the masses will be frowned upon. Big oil will fight anything that takes away from their bottom line...and Repubs will fight ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that Obama suggests. He should use reverse psychology.

    And, with some Tea Party limited intelligence...it will take one trucker to try and sneak through the guard rails to cause a major catastrophe. LOL! They seem to never learn!

  •  Even a good low-speed rail net would be great (0+ / 0-)

    Lived in Japan for just short of five years, and I really, really miss their rail system. I enjoyed the shinkansen, and I'd certainly love to see the equivalent here, but even something like the "low" speed standard inter-city express trains would be a huge improvement. They could still be much faster than driving.

    Imagine a passenger rail terminal in every county in the country. Imagine almost every city of more than 20,000 served by at least ten trains every day.

    Imagine trains literally timed to the second - in Japan, a train is considered running off-schedule if its arrival/departure is off by even a single minute. Yes, the Japanese make the trains run on time, and don't require fascism to do so...

    Imagine clean trains and terminals with easy interconnections to local light rail and decent buses. Imagine being able to live a normal life without absolutely having to have a car.

    I'm not down on high-speed rail, not at all. Just wanted to note than even decent standard-speed passenger rail would be a huge improvement over what we (don't) have now.

  •  Snark: Which is harder? Changing stations in Paris (0+ / 0-)

    or changing airline terminals in Atlanta?

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:24:08 AM PDT

  •  High-Speed Rail is just the tip of the iceberg... (0+ / 0-)

    Forget High-Speed rail. We can't even get our regional trains to work properly.

    Go to Holland. Fly to Amsterdam and get on a trian, any train?

    I live in Boston - there could/should be trains leaving every 15 minutes in and out of Boston to all the outlying towns and cities.

    A rail system like they have in Europe (again, forget the High-Speed rail for a minute and think about effiecient, fast regional rail transportation options) would transform new England.

    Trains need to be frequent and they need to be faster and more convenient than driving.
    Get on a regional train in Boston to go to Prvidence R.I. and you'll be lucky to get there anywhere near the time it takes to drive - ergo, most people drive.

  •  If everybody can use (0+ / 0-)

    it, and it makes life easier for working people and it makes the 1% feel less special,  then it can't be built in America.

    Maybe it would be ok if they introduced private cars like they had in the good old days, specially designed and outfitted and added to the train for the very rich.

  •  TGV (0+ / 0-)

    High speed rail is probably faster than a plane for any trip under a thousand miles, door to door.  After you factor in getting to the airport, security, check in, waiting at the gate, the flight itself, waiting for baggage and the trip to wherever from the airport, the train is usually faster.

    Also trains don't disappear over Malaysia and Vietnam.

    We really enjoy train travel in Europe.  Amtrak is OK if you have the time.

    William Hamilton practices Law and is a writer and community activist in the Charleston, SC area. He can reached through www.wjhamilton.com

    by wjhamilton29464 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:47:05 AM PDT

    •  Took the Eurostar from London to Paris (0+ / 0-)

      It's great. About 2 hours, from city center to city center.

      Technically, flying is faster - wheels up to wheels down is probably around 45 minutes. But of course, both city's airports are in the middle of nowhere so there's the time it takes to get to and from the airport, and you have to get there 2 hours before hand, etc. I couldn't think of a good reason to fly between those two cities unless you're connecting on to somewhere else.

      Since Eurostar requires you to check in and go through passport control, I had to be there about an hour in advance. But when I took an ICE train within Germany, I could show up at the train station 2 minutes before the train departed. It was awesome.

      Never taken Amtrak in the US. Flying or driving is always quicker and I've looked at Amtrak prices a few times, it's not always cheaper than flying either.

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:46:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As someone who has used Japan's HSR system... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher

    and still loves using Amtrak here in the states - we gotta get off our butts.  

    My sister is coming back to this country for a visit and then moving back later this year.  She's lived in Kuwait since 1989 (married, five kids).   We spoke on the phone for the first time in forever and what is it we couldn't stop talking about?  The lack of decent nationwide public transportation.  We're going to be doing a lot of driving about when she gets back - her and my parents.  We both think it's ridiculous. In other countries? Using public transport to get anywhere wouldn't be a problem.  

    Here, it is. My parents would use such a system.  Hell, I would, too.  Living just south of Portland, I could travel to San Franscisco to hang out and go shopping.  Same with Seattle.  As it stands now, it's either at 6-hours or over by train.  C'mon man, you know how fast that distance would be traveled in Japan???  We were on a "slow" older train and went from Tokyo to Hiroshima in 4-hours with a 10-min layover in Osaka.  

    Also, the whole argument: the United States is too big with a big population.  Bullshit.  The basis of a nationwide rail system is THERE. It needs to be updated, repaired - yes.  But that means JOBS. All of this means jobs and new businesses popping up along the railway lines. Means rural towns that were dying or gone, can come back in a big way. Combine all this with ACA and more people having a choice to leave their work and start their own businesses - it is an exciting time. A time of possibilities.  

    This Wednesday, I take Amtrak to Portland.  My prefer mode of travel is the train.  I would be using it more often if it was speedier.  I know many people who feel the same way as I do. More are turning away from air travel and really wishing HSR was an option.

    Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact. - William S. Burroughs

    by smugbug on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:56:34 AM PDT

  •  Time to make tracks... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RickD

    For decades now (US) government has supported automobiles (Big Auto?) by massive investment in the (Eisenhower) Interstate Highway System. And, of course, state and local road work. It supports air travel by building bigger and more efficient airports, providing air traffic controllers, etc.

    Railroads? Railroads are supposed to support themselves, working on their own profits to maintain and upgrade their own systems. Tracks in many places are in a state of disrepair; track systems built 50, 60, 80, years ago are expected to continue to function. None of which were built to sustain high-speed trains.

    What little Federal funding is applied to trains is, in many cases, "wasted" due to politics. Amtrak actually makes a pretty good profit in certain areas. I rode Amtrak daily for 8 years on the run from Albany, NY, to NYC. The 3rd-busiest line in the nation. (LA-SD and BOS-DC being the top two.) Service was adequate -- but there were places where speeds were limited by track conditions, not to mention that the tracks were leased from CSX freight and Metro-North (one of the NYC commuter system) -- and Amtrak is, to a certain extent, at their mercy.

    But what profits Amtrak makes in those areas are not necessarily available to "fix" issues in those areas. Funds are diverted to maintaining service in unprofitable areas (I'll throw out "South Dakota", holding NOTHING against SD, and that may be a bad example) -- simply because politicians have demanded that Amtrak provide service in SD. Amtrak is supposed to operate at a profit, but is hampered by such legislation when the legislation determines where and how they reinvest profits.

    And freight lines (which are not necessarily supposed to be "high speed" but suffer all the same problems) are, again, operating on their own with no assistance. Despite the fact that the carbon footprint of a 100-plus-car freight train is significantly smaller than that of 18-wheelers, not to mention the wear-and-tear on the Nation's highways caused by the latter. (Yes. I know that the 18-wheelers pay taxes. And tolls, in some cases.)

    The potential thrust of rail transportation in this Nation is hampered by geography. Paris-Vienna is 799 miles. Madrid-Berlin is 1572. These distances barely cover only the Eastern portion of the US. (NY-Chicago is 789; Boston-New Orleans, 1523.) And the vast majority of European distances are substantially smaller than my above examples. Whereas Boston-Los Angeles is 2982.

    There are many who enjoy the leisure of train travel. The inherent sightseeing, the ability to move around -- as opposed to the banality of airline flight. No one will argue that taking a train from DC to LA (2669 miles -- even at an average 150mph, is still 18 hours) is time-efficient for business passengers. But, e.g., NY-Chicago, at an average of only 120mph, could be done in 6+ hours. NY-Chi is a 2-hour plane flight. From La Guardia to O'Hare. By the time one gets to/from the airports (as opposed to train stations downtown), and goes through all the check-in and security stuff), most of that 6 hours is chewed up anyway.

    So where is the demand for improved rail service? Train service and efficiency need to be coordinated policy. The cynic in me says that Big Auto and Big Air have inherent interests in blocking any attempts at improving rail service. Despite the FACT that the footprint of a train is substantially less per passenger than those of airplanes or autos. In fuel consumption, carbon footprint, congestion, etc.

    The US lags behind Europe, Japan, et al, in high-speed trains. This is not due to a lack of knowledge; engineering talent; manufacturing capacity. It's due simply to a lack of market. Until the US gets its act together and declares a rail infrastructure to be a national priority, nothing will change; nothing will improve. If monies are spent on rail infrastructure in anything beginning to approach what is spent on highways and airports, the US could/would have a 1st-class rail infrastructure. And the high-speed trains would not be far behind.

    The following paper (admittedly from a source biased toward rails) details much of the above, including "logical routes", construction and operating costs -- and the benefits of same vs. air and highway.
    http://www.apta.com/...

    The thrust for rail improvement has to come from Washington. It's time to give high-speed rail the same attention and funding that are provided to air and highway travel.

  •  Trans Europa Express (TEE ) (0+ / 0-)

    I've traveled the European TEE train, and even back in the 70's it was a wonder.  Sturtgart to Augsberg in about an hour, on to Munich another hour.
    I was in Nurenberg in the '90's and had a choice to fly or take the train to Breman in N. Germany.  The decision was a coin toss but we took the plane, the schedule was better.
    In the '90's I took an express train from DC to Conn., I thought it would never end.
    Now they are planning a high speed train from Orlando to Miami via Cocoa Fl. and every area along the way is complaining, and will probably kill it.

  •  best way to start would be to (0+ / 0-)

    raise gas taxes to the same levels as those in the EU.  Once gas costs about $10 a gallon, rail will be a lot more popular option.

    •  In the meantime, the working class will be unable (0+ / 0-)

      to afford to get to work while rail and public transit is being built.

      Even if they can afford to get to work, they won't be able to afford the increase in prices of food and other goods as a result of the now much higher transportation costs.

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:58:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  just sayin' (0+ / 0-)

        if you want nice things, they need to be paid for...

        The USA's addiction to cars is mostly due to (relatively) cheap gas.

        The gas taxes we pay today are so low, they don't even cover the infrastructure costs anymore.

        But we don't like to talk about any of that.  We just got to make sure that joe sixpack can get to work in his F350.

  •  A tip for pushing for HSR (0+ / 0-)

    Include HSFreight in the plan. Business would love that.

  •  We coulda, but didn't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarthaPeregrine

    I remember back in the 1980s, a former engineer from Westinghouse by the name of Frank Perinni did research on super-conductivity and started experimenting with mag-lev trains. He also won some 23 patents for his work and the American government was interested in developing it further. When they approached him, they included a proviso that he do his research in either Texas or Southern California.
    However, he had family and friends in western New York, as well as the potential for setting up shops right here and a large labor force willing and eager for the work (the recession hit us hard).
    As soon as he suggested to do the work here, the government essentially told him, "don't call us, we'll call you" and took the deal off the table. Later, his patent attorney found out that the government allowed his applications to be viewed AND COPIED by representatives from the Japanese, German and French governments, among others.
    Do you really want to know why we don't have these trains? Ask Reagan/Bush and their cabal....

  •  For years HSR has been proposed for Texas (0+ / 0-)

    We've got three of the 10 biggest cities in the country, each between 200 and 300 miles apart. Perfect for a high speed train. Biggest opposition? Southwest Airlines....go figure.

  •  why would you do that? (0+ / 0-)

    "The train journey takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, when we take the 1 hour time zone difference between Paris and London into account. "

    The train journey takes two and a quarter to two and a half hours (approximately) in each direction.  Re-setting your watch doesn't make the journey faster or slower.  

    You might as well claim that it takes 3 hours and 20 minutes if you go in the other direction.  Let's keep it simple: when describing the length of a journey, describe the actual length of a journey.  

  •  high speed trains (0+ / 0-)

    I looked at the photos of the high speed trains and thought  to myself .... why does the Amtrak train look the most like the train I played with as a child and I'm 60 plus? Maybe we need to rethink this.

  •  Japan, Germany and France have hi-speed rail; why? (0+ / 0-)

    it's not like they have a big country (like the USA, or China or Russia, for that matter) that takes forever to cross.

    •  Well Germany and France (0+ / 0-)

      are part of the EU. And they aren't gigantic like we are, but they aren't tiny city states either.
      Germany from north to south is 876 kilometers. More than 8 hours by bus/car, but more like 3.5 hours by HSR.

      "We need institutions and cultural norms that make us better than we tend to be. It seems to me that the greatest challenge we now face is to build them." -Sam Harris, neuroscientist

      by MarthaPeregrine on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 12:45:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  GOP obstruction (0+ / 0-)

    We could have launched a number of infrastructure projects, including high speed rail, if the GOP had gotten the hell out of the way.  Libertarian "small government" does not compete with other countries.  The "small government" types would set us back to the stone age.

  •  USA will go for trains.... (0+ / 0-)

    when the airports get so congested that passengers sit on the ground for hours, when airline mergers make it too expensive to fly, and when TSA finally pisses off enough folks.  I can fly to DFW direct for $70 in about 90 minutes, so a train would have to be very fast and very convenient compared to the plane... and it's getting close!  But as long as we fail to maintain the RR system we have, why build new?

  •  A note for airplane supporters: (0+ / 0-)

    Let's never forget that while an airplane is faster than your laughable rail system as it stands, planes are NOT faster than HSR. The average flight speed of a Dreamliner, for example, when routing and stacking are taken into account on a fairly typical 500km (300 mile) commute, is less than 160km/hr (100 mph). Whereas typical average HSR speed on the same commute is 250 km/hr (150 mph) after accounting for acceleration and deceleration.

    Not to mention the one (and sometimes two) hours you have to be at the airport for security. Or the hour and a half you're fighting traffic to get to and from the airport. And the time spent flying in circles at the other end of the trip, waiting for landing clearance. And... And... And...

    Of course, we have exactly the same problem in Australia, except we don't have to strip for flying. Yet.

    •  Not exactly (0+ / 0-)

      While I agree that HSR makes better overall sense for shorter trips, your flight time information isn't correct at all.

      First off, a Dreamliner generally isn't flying 300 mile flights.  It was designed for 6000-mile flights.  But, most jets fly at (more or less) similar speeds, so let's look at a short-distance flight.  I just did a quick check of Chicago O'Hare to Detroit on United (since that was the last short-distance flight I took in the US, connecting from a longer flight a few months ago).  Flight distance is 235 miles.  Scheduled time is 1h18, for an average speed of 180 mph.  This includes all the allowances for taxiing, takeoff, approach, landing, etc.  Actual in-air flight time is about 45 minutes (average speed 313 mph).

      Where train travel has the advantage over air travel is that (generally) train stations are closer to where you're coming from/going to, and don't require arriving as long in advance.  Further, up until recently, the additional benefit was not having to keep your stuff put away (and it's still an issue on planes to some extent, as they only allow small electronic devices; so laptops, cell phones, and anything that requires your tray table to be down still must be put away during takeoff and landing).

      But let's not pretend that a 300-mile flight is slower, in flying time, than a train.  It simply isn't.

      •  But airline travel time is more than airtime ... (0+ / 0-)

        Using your example, If you had a flight between Detroit and Chicago, and the flight departed at noon, you would have to be at the airport by 10:00 AM (according to TSA criteria). You have to check your larger and extra bags, and can only take one small carry-on bag plus one other item on board. You cannot take any liquids through the security gate, so you must either buy your beverage inside the terminal, carry an empty water bottle to fill at the terminal fountain, or wait until the beverage cart comes by on the plane. Forget anything to eat except a tiny bag of pretzels, unless you bring it yourself. You have only a tiny pull-down tray for your food, beverage and reading material or laptop (which you can only use for about 20 minutes of the flight), and very little leg room. There are never enough restrooms, and always a line, you must only get up during the middle flight times (about 20 minutes worth) and often have to crawl over other people or wait behind the beverage cart to get to the restroom (which is usually dirty and has pee on the floor, and not enough room to avoid the mess). You would arrive in Chicago at approximately 1:18 PM. And perhaps the plane takes another 20 minutes to get a gate assignment (fairly typical at O'Hare from my experience), then another 15 - 20 minutes to disembark the plane (unless you travel 1st class or pay extra for a seat near the front), and then another 15 - 30 minutes to collect your checked baggage. So by the time you get your luggage and head out the airport doors, it will be about 2:00- 2:30. A total "travel time" of 4 - 4.5 hours.
        If you use a similar distance trip that involves multiple flight legs (changing planes, et al) it becomes a much longer trip.  

        Let's imagine the same example trip using a HSR system operating the same way they do in Europe. The HSR would probably run from Detroit to Chicago non-stop. You would want to arrive at the train station around 30 minutes before your scheduled departure, so about 11:30 AM, with all your luggage in tow (no pre-checking luggage, although in main stations you can pay a porter to assist you with your luggage if you have a lot), the train is usually in the station at least 15 minutes before departure, maybe 30 minutes. So you board your train, stow your luggage above and below your seat and/or in separate luggage racks, and get settled into your spacious seat with plenty of leg room. There is no pre-boarding check-in, no long lines to board (as there are 2 doors per train car) and you can bring a bag lunch, pastry and/or cup of coffee, etc., on board with you if you want, or visit the food car and order something to eat there. There is either a permanent table between rows of facing seats, or a fold-down tray table for each seat. And then you relax. The porter comes by and verifies your ticket while you comfortably relax in your seat. You barely feel it when the train starts up. You can get up and walk around as much as you like, there are plenty of restrooms (usually 2 per train car, clean and spacious) so you rarely have to wait for that. You can work on your computer, play video games on your iPad, read a book or newspaper, or just look out the large (openable) windows at the scenery. The route taken by a train would not be quite as direct as by air, although it would be fairly direct between Detroit and Chicago (if it follows the highway corridors). So at just less than half the average speed of air travel, and adding a little for the less direct path (let's say 250 miles at average of 150 MPH), you would arrive at the Chicago train station at about 1:40 PM.  Then take a few minutes to gather up your belongings and exit the train station (say 20 minutes max). Your total travel time is then about 2.5 hours. You would have exited the station before your air traveling counterpart, and arrived comfortable and relaxed.  

        If your HSR had inter-connections to make, as often as not, you don't need to leave your seat. The cars are assigned by final destination, and the train cars are quickly switched from one train to another. The HSR trains rarely sit in a station for more than 30 minutes. Local trains usually only sit in the station for about 15 minutes, but run more frequently. This compares to airline flight connections, which require an hour or more between flight legs, often arrive late (because they left the original airport late or had to wait for a gate) so you end up running through the airport (usually from the end of one terminal to the end of another terminal) hauling all your carry-on luggage, and sometimes your checked luggage doesn't make the connection.          

    •  Cephas great post. Thanks for your support. (0+ / 0-)

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 10:40:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Peak Rail speed in the US (0+ / 0-)

    I remember reading somewhere that rail average speed peaked in the US at 41 MPH, on average... in 1914. Seriously, passenger rail in Oregon (and probably everywhere) is slotted BEHIND freight in priority, so when a 120 car train filled with industrial chemicals gets in the way of the 5 car Amtrak train, the chemicals get to go first.
    Plus, our roadbeds have been poorly maintained for about a century (the train into Portland, OR from the south used to have to crawl in to the station at 5-10 MPH because the roadbed caused so much swaying in the cars that it was unsafe any faster.)
    The contrast was even starker because I rode Amtrak to Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC, where the Germans in 1986 were showing off quieter train wheels, since they already had Maglev (Magnetic levitation) trains, Inter City Express trains (the ICE trains mentioned in the diary) and other high speed rail options.

    Maybe we will get better at rail, but I am not holding my breath.

  •  I'm going to have to HSR this diary (0+ / 0-)

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:02:06 PM PDT

  •  The rail system here is non-existant, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Democrats Ramshield, bethann

    in any sort of real sense. It is disgraceful.

    I used to work in travel and I would say that given the airlines huge monopoly on long distance travel in the USA, it  would be worth investing in for that alone. But the list is really far too long for the benefits good, fast rail travel would have on our economy, to just focus on this one aspect.

    It is should be a national embarrassment for us. It should be something that should have been addressed 50 years ago.

    I hate traveling Amtrak. Anything other than the Eastern corridor is utterly disastrous.  We have some beautiful country and we could show it off, bringing some of the tourist economy back to off the beaten path places out here in the wilds.

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -Mae West

    by COwoman on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:18:04 PM PDT

  •  Amtrak (0+ / 0-)

    My wife and I took the Amtrak from Tucson to Chicago a few years back.  To start off, the train was 3 hours late getting into Tucson.  What should have been a 2 day trip lasted 4 days.  Worst trip we ever took.  

  •  The train in Spain in the 70's was more modern (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher

    than Amtrak is now.  I loved traveling by train there.  You didn't need a car to get around. Every town had a train station, it was inexpensive, comfortable and fun.  That is part of the problem, several generations in this country haven't had that experience.  They have no idea what they have missed.  This diary made me want to return to Europe and ride the trains again.  

  •  I have visited a number of European countries, (2+ / 0-)

    as well as China and Japan (although I didn't ride the trains in China). I used EuroRail train passes to get around most of Western Europe, and a similar train pass for visitors in Japan. The trains ran on time (nearly always, except for a couple minor problems in Italy, and we didn't use the train system in Greece, UK or Ireland - we rented cars in those countries, which was actually a lot more stressful). We did take a couple shorter train rides in Australia, and that was also very efficient. The best we rode were in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and, of course, Japan.  

    The trains got us to within easy walking distance of everywhere we wanted to go, were a pleasant way to see more of the countrysides, and were very comfortable and cost and time effective. The EuroRail passes also gave a big discount on the overnight high-speed ferry between Italy and Greece.

    The trains were also very convenient. I bought my train tickets ahead of time over the internet and they were mailed to me. I used the online time-tables to plan my vacations, and was able to plan the entire routes, down to the exact train numbers and times, for the entire vacation via internet - several months ahead of the vacation. I also planned and reserved our lodgings via internet to be easily accessible by foot from the train stations. I had everything arranged ahead of time, and the itinerary all printed out. (My husband jokingly called it our vacation "bible". And yes, I'm a little bit OCD - comes with the territory for many engineers.)

    It made the vacation more pleasant for us because once we got to our destinations, we knew exactly where and when we needed to be to get to everything we wanted to visit. Everything flowed like clockwork, and we could focus on enjoying the sights instead of worrying about making flight connections (except for the initial flights between the USA and Europe or Japan, which were often very stressful). We were able to see and do a lot more in our limited time by taking the trains.

    I think if the USA had a decent hi-speed train system interconnecting with more modern local and commuter trains, we would get around our country easier, cheaper, and for less pollution, and would probably see an increase in tourism as well.      

  •  I'm sold! (0+ / 0-)

    I would love to be able to use a high-speed train rather than fly. I like seeing the countryside go by, and someday won't be able to drive any more.

    Bring 'em on!



    Women create the entire labor force.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 09:38:26 AM PDT

  •  Texas (0+ / 0-)

    It will come to Texas first. Its flat, and largely empty, but wit  a few huge cities, and lots of money.

  •  I rode a bullet train in Spain from Seville (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bethann, Democrats Ramshield

    to Barcelona. Took 5 hours, and would have taken 13+ by bus. I loved it. I hope we get some nice hi-speed train corridors in the USA in the next decade or so. I would definitely take more trips if we did.

    "We need institutions and cultural norms that make us better than we tend to be. It seems to me that the greatest challenge we now face is to build them." -Sam Harris, neuroscientist

    by MarthaPeregrine on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 12:37:54 PM PDT

  •  Re: Chinese building America's Railroads (0+ / 0-)

    "Is it really true that the only way to get hi speed rail in America is to out source the job to China? (humor) :-)"

    Isn't Chinese labor EXACTLY how we got our current rail system built?? (snark - but only a little, really)

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 02:09:54 PM PDT

  •  USA Politics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Democrats Ramshield

    unfortunately ....

    The goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by Mindmover on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 12:12:14 PM PDT

    •  To Mindmover - You're right but it doesn't have to (0+ / 0-)

      be that way. The reason for that is because we are the owners of this country and not the  1%. All we have to do is take ownership of this issue and we will win, because the bottom line is if we build it they will come.

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 12:22:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I understand the tracks need to be really straight, or with very gentle curves for those speeds. That means huge problems getting rights of way, and possibly cutting towns in half, etc.  Plus, of course, most existing tracks, even if they're straight, are in such bad shape they would need to be rebuilt.
    I wish we could have it, but...ready for another moon shot, people? That's probably the level of commitment we would need, and I really don't see it happening.

    Also, how do they deal with animals crossing the tracks? It's bad enough at our speeds, and there is a lot more wildlife in this country.

  •  The GOP does not like trains They like Buses (0+ / 0-)

    Because they use more fuel and tires and roads made from oil.

  •  Re-visit Roger Rabbit (0+ / 0-)

    and recognize that the oil, auto and concrete industries have conspired to eliminate rail.
    The post-WWII history of the US railroads is an interesting read - reaction against the railroads, based on some strong propaganda engineering, resulted in the RRs giving up passenger service in exchange for permitting AMTRAK to use their rails (a poor trade, IMHO). The extensive subsidy of air, under the guise of "civil defense," and the Interstate system, put the final touches on the decline.
    Congress says Amtrak should "pay its own way." However, highways and airports don't, and are not expected to.
    If there were a level playing ground, possibly private enterprise could develop a competitive RR passenger system. Rail is still the second-most energy efficient transportation (water is first).
    I have traveled on the European rails. Generally (except for the old Soviet block) they are superb.
    Canada has some excellent long-distance rail travel; this suggests that the issue of distance, often cited as the reason US rails can't work, is not a factor preventing the development of a quality system.
    Go Amtrak! You might like it as much as I do.

  •  Who needs fast trains? (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe the rest of the world can afford to have very high speed trains but here in America we don't need such things.  I understand our transportation system is considering to refurbish some coal fired steam trains that will achieve speeds of up to 60 MPH, if the trackbeds will support suchspeeds. USA, USA, USA. We,re number 1.

    If you look at it in the right light, you cannot see any darkness.

    by Digger1 on Sat May 30, 2015 at 01:12:58 PM PDT

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