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Business Lines Up in Support of Amtrak

| Tuesday July 19th, 2005 | 4 Comments

Train travel is the most efficient form of motorized travel around (even Amtrak critics agree). Nonetheless, it remains poorly developed in the United States. Fortunately for environmentalists and smart-thinking business people alike, there is growing sentiment to make well designed intercity train travel as much of a priority here as it is in Europe. Have a look at this article from the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with cutting federal funding for certain long distance train services as they don’t serve a great transportation purpose. However, for distances of less than 500 miles trains can and do outperfom car and air travel any way you measure it. Investing heavily in new, fast and efficient intercity trains ought to be a national priority – both for business and for the environment.


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  • Anonymous

    One comment, your lack of support for long-distance trains appears to make a common assumption that is often not true: that long-distance trains only serve the end-points.
    Ask the travellers on the Empire Builder in Idaho if they think that train is important to them. You’ll find in many cases that it serves areas that Greyhound has long departed and that assured air-service no longer assures.

  • Anonymous

    Long-distance trains often support multiple, shorter segments, as the previous commenter noted. Beyond that, by divinding the fixed costs of the equipment, maintenance, comissary, crew, labor, etc. across these multiple segments, long-distance trains are a cheaper way to provide this mobility to rural communities than more, shorter trains.
    Idaho does not have the capital, for example, to create its own service, but it can rely on and benefot from the Empire Builder as it heads across country.
    Additionally, the political value of the long distance trains has been proven time and time again. Cynical perhaps, but given the attitudes in this nation regarding highway and air transportation, rail would be crazy to relinquish its hold on anything that ensures support such as this.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting! I was kind of looking for a compromise, in the event funding is slashed, what should be the priorities? I think that if we could prove the viability of rail in the short segments near major cities, we’d rally a lot more support and be able to get the infrastructure moving alont faster than by spreading the money among unprofitable segments, as much as it would paid me to see those segments canned.

  • Carl

    As the shrinking supply and rising cost of fuel creates more pinch, air travel will have to go back up in price, making long-distance rail look better again, at least for people not in such a hurry. Rail is several times more fuel efficient than jets, and it generates many times less pollution. Rail is also a better candidate for new power sources. Most locomotives in America are already hybrids (diesel-electric), and when the day arrives that fuelcells become affordable, they can be dropped into existing locomotives.