The case for re-building our rail system

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The recent derailment of an Amtrak train, killing eight people and injuring 200, has people worried about the safety of railroad transportation.  But rail transportation is extremely safe, compared to automobile driving.

It is also more energy-efficient and affordable, and this is going to become more important over time.

I enjoy the freedom of driving my car and of not being tied to a bus or train schedule.  At the same time I’m glad that bus and train transportation is available when I’m not able to drive, and I’d use it more if it were more convenient.

I might prefer a comfortable leisurely train trip to the hassle of traveling by air, if the schedule were convenient.  I’ve never heard of anybody losing a seat on a passenger train because it was over-booked.

And rail transportation when available is the most cost-effective means of shipping freight.
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My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey sent me a link to an article making the case for investing in rail transportation.  But the U.S. government is doing the opposite.  It is dis-investing in rail.

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Why?  I think it is due to an ideology that has taken root in the Republican Party that public services are in and of themselves a bad thing, unless provided by for-profit corporations.  So public services are starved of the funds they need, which makes them function poorly, which provides a justification for punishing them by further budget cuts.

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LINKS

Why We Should Spend Billions More on Trains by Andrew Breiner for ThinkProgress.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Amtrak: Just how bad is America’s infrastructure? by Brad Knickerbocker for the Christian Science Monitor.  (Hat tip to the Weekly Sift)

America’s premier rail superhighway is slowly falling apart by David B. Caruso and Justin Pritchard of the Associated Press.

Who Pays for Roads? by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.  Drivers pay less than half the cost.  The rest is made up by taxpayers.

Why do Republicans really oppose infrastructure spending? by DailyKos.  (Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist)

The Plot Against Trains by Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker.  (Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist)  [Added 5/22/2015]

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