Monday, December 24, 2007

The wonder of super-highways from Disney in 1958

From the New York City Streets Blog comes this freaky look at the future as envisioned by Disney car enthusiasts in 1958. Check it out -- it's a nine-minute animated short film of 'the future' of highway travel.

Consider the immense marketing power put behind the cause of building and funding with tax dollars the highway network.

And try to think how we can inspire people to start doing that with an intercity passenger rail network today!

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Passenger trains need their own tracks

When a freight train derails (as they occasionally do), passenger train service should not halt.

That's a symptom of an under-capitalized and thus bad transportation network.

That's the state of affairs for the rail network in the Midwest.

Today a freight train derailed in Northwest Indiana and shut down Amtrak traffic east of Chicago.

What we need is for the government to pay a railroad company to build a new set of tracks that is dedicated exclusively for passenger rail.

We don't have enough track in this country.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Great Neil Pierce column on passenger rail

The Houston Chronicle ran an excellent column by Neil Pierce on passenger rail.

It starts off like this:

Are the stars finally coming into alignment for an American passenger-rail system that's even mildly comparable to 21st-century world standards?

America's train advocates are mildly optimistic. And for some good reasons. Amtrak is reporting impressive ridership gains. Oil is pushing $100 a barrel, throwing a long shadow over affordability of travel on already congested highways. Airport delays hit an all-time high last summer. Global climate concerns are mounting.

Rail freight demands, meanwhile, are rising fast, suggesting joint improvements with passenger rail. Worries are rising about mobility gaps hindering the ability of America's "megaregions" — the Northeast, Great Lakes, California and others — to match the performance of competitive regions worldwide.

There's also a nice quote from our Executive Director Rick Harnish:

And no one knows, notes Rick Harnish of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, how expansive demand for Amtrak service would be if many more routes were opened, offering at least three or four trains daily for reasonable frequency. His bet is that millions of Americans would opt for the more convenient system, especially as oil soars in cost: "For 50 years we assumed we could do everything by car. It's now painfully clear that's not true."

To read the rest, including a plug for the National Corridors Institute conference in St. Louis on January 28-29, check out the Chronicle's site here.