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National Passenger Rail

This post is pretty much spot on:

Amtrak should build a good train:

Amtrak released their new vision for passenger rail expansion in the United States, and I don’t really know what to say except that it sucks. They’re proposing incremental expansion of a national network of slow, infrequent trains that I guess will serve the needs of weirdos and hobbyists who want to ride a train from Birmingham to Shreveport or from Athens to Fort Wayne via Columbus but serves no particular transportation purpose.

I get the politics of this idea — spreading a lot of money around to a lot of different places and making modest upgrades to existing legacy rail lines and thus avoiding any difficult engineering problems or potential land use conflicts.

I just want something big to happen with our national rail system. If I could wave a magic wand we’d nationalize the railroad right-of-ways (like a public utility) and begin upgrades for electrification and higher-speeds across the entire system. The only point of disagreement with the Slow Boring post I have is that connecting smaller places with better service will help them survive – and I think that’s both better politics and economics than assumed.

Categories: Trains.

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