America’s population is too dispersed and too dense for trains (huh?) by mattsteinglass
August 8, 2008, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Transportation, United States

WSJ today says increased Amtrak ridership (up 14%!) is leading Congress to consider high-speed Euro-style trains, but Amtrak’s CEO thinks it’s implausible:

A provision in the House’s Amtrak bill would have the Transportation Department study the possibility of high-speed service between Washington and New York, with trains running as fast as 200 miles an hour and a trip time of two hours or less.

Mr. Kummant scoffs at the idea of European-style high-speed service in the congested Northeast, which could require a dedicated corridor established through years of eminent-domain proceedings.

“There’s two railroads out there,” Mr. Kummant said. “There’s the one we run every day, and there’s the one everybody imagines is out there.”

Okay, so. For years, car enthusiasts have argued that America can’t have European style train service because America isn’t densely settled enough.

And then when it looks like the government wants to establish fast, European/Japanese/Chinese-style train service in a part of the country that’s dying to have it, we hear that it’s impossible because…it’s too densely settled.

This is just pathetic. If they can run a 200 mph track for the Thalys through northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, connecting Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne, we can goddamn well put a 200 mph track through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. What kind of incompetent wimps have Americans become?

2 Comments so far
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A few years ago, German high-speed trains did test-runs on the East coast of the U.S. In Germany, these trains go by the name ICE, which stands for Inter City Express. In the U.S., people thought ICE referred to the white color of the trains: white as ice…

Comment by Thorsten

If they do the study, they’ll find that a few hundred billion will build “true high speed” from New York to Philadelphia. It’s not really worth it; if you really want better NY-PHL service, the money would be better spent to restore passenger service on the Bordentown-South Amboy line and the West Trenton-Bound Brook line to provide three parallel routes from New York to Philadelphia. Both lines would fill up instantly, and the extra capacity would mean faster and more on-time trains. There’s plenty of spare terminal capacity in Philly; New York needs a Grand Central connection.

Comment by Nathanael Nerode

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