Thursday, 16 April 2009

Choo-choosing

This is good news. Well, not really news, as this was one of the points of defense of the stimulus plan, and besides, the candidate did sometimes stress the importance of rail and infrastructure on the trail. Bubba did the same, so I wasn't holding my breath. Now maybe I won't have to.

Of course there is a long way to go, even if or when the lines are running. My experience has shown me that the presence of the alternative does not make it the most viable one in the eyes of the ones choosing between alternatives.

And when the competition has all the financial incentive, even the most subsidized rail faces a constant uphill chug. Consider the fact that in Europe - the oh-so enviro-friendly continent where "everyone goes by train" - rail providers have to pay the fuel, raw materials, and environmental taxes that the airlines are exempt from, even though the latter fleet produces much more waste and damage to the environment.

The best thing about this plan is that it begins with the most attractive potential, which would be regional travel. This is really where Eurorail makes it; transcontinental is for romantics with too much time on their hands, which is nice, I'm sure, but does not alone for a profit make.

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't give a fuck about profitability, commie-lover that I am, but with the stranglehold the other industries have on the Department of Transportation, the new technology required for the longterm part of this plan is as good as dead coming into the station. When is the last time the good ol' Blood, Sheets, and P-Blue Ribbon sustained any project trans presidencies, save those involving the military?

After all is said and paid and laid, the cost to the traveller will decide. Not to mention, the owner of the tracks will no doubt schedule and operate on a pay to play basis. Still, I'm just glad Bo Rama is loco enough to flip the green signal switch on this one.

Now just maybe fifty years from now, when this renewal has been left to rust by way of neglect and other special interests, we will have cut back enough on war spending to fund and maintain an actual high-speed network, while some other world leader is sending in the drones. Try holding your breath until then.