Monday, May 18, 2015

Why we'll never get decent passenger train service

A sharp-eyed LOVESalem foreign correspondent sends this.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

The more I read about our railroad history, the more disgustingly brutal it seems.  But this article articulates the basic systemic reasons we'll never get anything like the passenger train service that even '2nd class' countries enjoy.  High speed, high-tech rail service will NOT happen in a country hell-bent on maintaining its empire rather than getting ready for the real 21st century.  A political system dedicated to burning the last drops of unconventional fossil fuel dregs will instead focus on reliable (slow) rail service for getting isolated coal and oil deposits to remote customers; and since Amtrak uses these same rails throughout the system, it too is slow.  U.S. environmentalists who tout high-speed electric and/or maglev trains to cope with declining fossil fuels and/or climate change have drunk the kool-aid, but the sugar content has fattened their brain to the point they are in fantasy land.

Out here on the west side of the Cascades, an Amtrak line shares the rails with coal and oil trains that are becoming more and more frequent, to the point that Amtrak schedules are more and more problematic.  And I don't think our Amtrak train EVER travels faster than 60 mph, and never has.  I've been on trains in Japan and Germany; in both those places the things went at least twice as fast, and the ride was smooth - a huge contrast with our Amtrak that sways like a camel-ride.  On our Amtrak train, walking the aisles to get to the food car is more demanding than walking a wire.  I'm pretty sure the owners of our NW rails (BNSF) regard Amtrak as a nuisance customer, one BNSF would drop like a hot skillet if it weren't for the political requirement not to.

Down with corporate dynasties.  Write in Elizabeth Warren for president and vice-president in 2016.

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