Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Obamawatch: Reviving the railroads

Posted by sanityinjection on February 17, 2009

Politico.com has a piece on how high-speed rail is emerging as a priority of the Obama Administration:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/18924.html

I’m not convinced that this belongs in the stimulus plan (I’m skeptical of how “shovel-ready” high-speed rail projects are right now) and I’m also not necessarily convinced that the LA-Vegas run being funded by it is the nation’s most pressing transportation corridor.

However, I think more generally the Obama Administration is correct to see in high-speed rail a solution to multiple problems – congestion, pollution, and transportation costs. Railroads were our nation’s most important means of transportation for almost a century before they were largely abandoned with the creation of the interstate highway system by Dwight Eisenhower beginning in the late 1950s. The economic factors that once made it cheaper to ship goods by air and road instead of rail have changed drastically over the last thirty years.  Think about this: According to railroad company CSX, even on the existing, low-tech railroad that runs from Baltimore to Boston, a train can move one ton of freight that entire 423-mile distance on one gallon of fuel! Thus, I think it’s important to look at high-speed rail for freight as well as passenger service.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of extra money floating around to be invested in this area. But I would support shifting some federal money from other, perhaps less promising areas  toward high-speed rail development.

Just one request, President Obama: Don’t let Michael Dukakis (with his history of running Amtrak into the ground) anywhere near this, please. You’ve resurrected enough dead Democrats to last for the next 8 years.

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