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  Just a shameless plug for America's bastard stepchild of a real rail passenger system: AMTRAK. May 10 is going to be the first National Train Day, so check out the info and start thinking about trains as a real alternative to more highways or overstressed airlines. It may be a marketing ploy, but that's no reason not to leverage it.

     With the political season coming to a boil, and gas prices in the news, why not start reminding your political reps that America deserves and NEEDS a real rail passenger system?  AMTRAK may be a long ways from the rail systems much of the rest of the developed world enjoys, but it's what we've got and it does amazingly well despite decades of starvation budgets. These guys are fighting the good fight - why not check them out? They have plans for all around the country; see what your region's plans are.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Thu May 08, 2008 at 05:03 AM PDT.


When it comes to trains, I

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Comment Preferences

  •  TIP Jar (5+ / 0-)

    With one car dead and another in the shop, I could use a real alternative transport mode right now. Feel free to put up rail links here (there have been some great KOS diaries), and share thoughts on trains.

    Remember, a majority of Americans think the country is on the Wrong Track - this would be one small start in changing that.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu May 08, 2008 at 05:05:40 AM PDT

  •  One More Thing.... (0+ / 0-)

      If there are things you'd like to see happen with any kind of rail travel where you are, why not post a comment here about it?

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu May 08, 2008 at 05:09:38 AM PDT

  •  Sorry, Obama has dibs on May 10th (0+ / 0-)

    This Saturday, we're launching Vote for Change, an unprecedented 50-state voter registration and mobilization drive. In one day more than 100 events will be held across the country, with at least one event in every single state. No matter where you live, you can find an event near you. After a brief training, we’ll hit the streets to register voters.

    The events this Saturday will kick-off of a six-month voter registration drive that could reshape the electoral map. If more Americans get involved, get registered and show up to vote, we can change Washington this November.  

    Vote for Change

    Find an Event Near You

    •  So why not do both? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vote On Paper

       Amtrak is planning local events at their stations. It might be worth working the crowds (cross your fingers) while pointing out that if people want better rail service, it's going to have to start in the voting booth.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Thu May 08, 2008 at 05:22:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  All Aboard! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, wayoutinthestix

    Obama is on board with passenger rail, and so should you! From his platform:

    Support Amtrak Funding: Barack Obama has been a strong supporter of federal financial support for Amtrak. Obama believes we need to reform Amtrak to improve accountability. In many parts of the country, Amtrak is the only form of reliable transportation. In the U.S. Senate, Obama is a cosponsor of the Passenger Rail Investment and Innovation Act of 2007, a leading act to provide long-term federal investment to Amtrak. As president, Barack Obama will continue to fight for Amtrak funding and reform so that individuals, families and businesses throughout the country have safe and reliable transportation options.

    Support Development of High-Speed Freight and Passenger Rail: Barack Obama supports development of high-speed rail networks across the country. Providing passengers with safe high-speed rail will have significant environmental and metropolitan planning advantages and help diversify our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Our domestic rail freight capacity must also be strengthened because our demand for rail transportation has never been greater, leaving many key transportation hubs stretched to capacity. Obama is committed to renewing the federal government’s commitment to high speed rail so that our nation’s transportation infrastructure continues to support, and not hinder, our nation’s long-term economic growth.

    Some other rail-related links of interest:

    Photos and technical information regarding high-speed rail systems throughout the world, with a particular focus on France's world-renown TGV system, which has been operating 186 MPH trains for over 30 years with a near-flawless safety record. IMO, this is the gold standard that the US needs to emulate. (Unfortunately, this site hasn't been updated for a long time, but it still contains lots of good info.)

    Here's some inspiration via YouTube: A video of a TGV train setting of 357.16 MPH:

    (Arrrgh... I can't seem to embed the YouTube clip, but here's the direct link.)

    It doesn't require much of a stretch to imagine that train flying across the cornfields of Ohio, does it? Thing is we already have the technology for it, and thanks to thousands of miles of abandoned railroad rights-of-way and interstate highway medians, we already have the corridors for such a system. All we're missing is the political will. When complete, a nationwide high-speed rail system could be as revolutionary to American transportation as Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System was back in the 1950's.

    What are you willing to do to make it happen?

    Closer to home, check out for all sorts of links and photos of urban subway, metro, and light rail systems throughout the world. (The Chicago section was mostly written by yours truly.) This is the type of infrastructure we desperately need more investment in, as opposed to more freeways that mainly benefit gas companies and developers.

    It's all fun and games until somebody gets burned at the stake.

    by Living in Gin on Thu May 08, 2008 at 05:56:44 AM PDT

    •  Let's hope . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is going to be a tough sell, but if it is framed right . . . .

      we need a new, gas-tax-funded, interstate transportation bill that will do for the railroads what Eisenhower did for the roads.  It should be sold as getting more bang for our gas tax dollar buck; something that will lower prices in the stores due to more efficient transportation of goods, and something that will ensure that traveling alone on rail is cheaper than driving alone.  The vision should be that of an America where everyone is conveniently connected to their nearest major city by rail, where your kid can get to college by rail, where you can get to work by rail, where your family can go away for the weekend by rail.  The means should be widespread widening and electrification of existing railroads and grants to both Amtrak and state operators for rolling stock -- and also some form of open access for new train operating companies to enter the market.

      But it won't be easy getting there; we may need some up-front sweeteners in the form of immediate improvements to transit and Amtrak in order to build support by giving people a realistic idea of what it could be like, and also bring the freight railroads and trucking companies on board through improvements to freight railroads and open access for the truckers to piggy-back on rail or even run their own trains.

  •  I'm Amtraking (0+ / 0-)

    up to New York and Connecticut (from FL) at the end of May. Looking forward to it! I took a train trip once before and really enjoyed it - so relaxing, and I met some really awesome people that I had actual conversations with. That doesn't happen on a plane.

    Don't trust any UID over [insert current highest number here].

    by pattyp on Thu May 08, 2008 at 07:29:56 AM PDT

  •  Go trains (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll be at the Chicago event.

    Amtrak is doing quite well these days in situations where they aren't the hapless victims of freight train interference.  But in too many situations even the existing system is hobbled by gross overcrowding and inadequate facilities for the freight trains that are now running; passing loops that are too short for today's freights, single track that needs to be double, double track that needs to be triple, and too few diversionary routes.

    Add to that a regulatory structure that drastically increases Amtrak's costs compared to European train operators and it makes for a tough environment indeed.  

    And then of course there's the budget starvation that everybody knows about.  Amtrak has not placed a major passenger car order since the Acela Express, and as tough as all that 1970s-era Budd and Pullman Standard equipment is, it is due for replacement.

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