21 Apr '16    home | previous

Politics and High-Speed Trains

On MSNBC's "Hardball" last night, Chris Matthews complained that the United States is "a country of builders, but we've stopped."

China and Japan put our railway systems to shame. They go 200 to 300 miles
an hour, and you don`t even know you`re moving. You ride on Amtrak here
and it`s a feet of acrobatic balance just to walk up the aisle.

Matthews blames the Republican Party for not believing in investing in the public sector. He concludes:

And so, we move on, heading backward as the rest of the world moves
forward. The one thing a good presidency could accomplish is to look at
what we did in the time of Lincoln and Eisenhower and get going in that
direction and start now.

See the transcript here.

Back in March, candidate Trump was agreeing with Democrats about high-speed trains. Time magazine has written of President Obama having "spent the better part of his second term pushing for a $478 billion infrastructure bill to fund roads, bridges, and rail lines."  The magazine quotes Trump:

Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems—our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it.

On the federal level, this is going to be an expensive investment, no question about that. But in the long run it will more than pay for itself. It will stimulate our economy while it is being built and make it a lot easier to do business when it’s done—and it can be done on time and under budget.

Against high-speed trains has been John Kasich, who campaigned against it when running for governor. Also opposing trains has been Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker. Our Republican congress has not been expressing enthusiasm for it. Time quotes conservative columnist George Will as saying "the real reason for progressives' passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans' individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism". 

In California, Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has a high-speed rail system under construction that is to link southern and northern California. The trains will be capable of a sustained operating speed of at least 200 miles per hour. By law it is to operate with out state subsidies. Brown has described opponents of his high-speed trains as pusillanimous (lacking courage or resolution).

High speed rail delivers fast, efficient transportation so riders can save time, energy, and money. HSR is extremely reliable and operates in all weather conditions. HSR is not subject to congestion, so it operates on schedule every day without delay - especially during rush hour and peak travel times.

The US High Speed Rail Association touts high-speed rail as a good investment:

High speed rail delivers fast, efficient transportation so riders can save time, energy, and money. HSR is extremely reliable and operates in all weather conditions. HSR is not subject to congestion, so it operates on schedule every day without delay - especially during rush hour and peak travel times.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.