August 8, 2014

Obama has spent $11 billion on high-speed higher-speed passenger trains, but where are they?

"... mostly nowhere..."

(The link goes to The New York Times, not to some Obama-bashing site.)

76 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

The ONLY place HS trains should be built until one is built there is Boston to NYC to DC


Like the complete waste of money California train, none of these projects have a chance unless you lay new roadbed and that costs serious money

another progressive fantasy meets grim reality story.

pissing away money we dont have

Seeing Red said...

Is this part of the $619 billion missing or are we now at $630 billion?

elkh1 said...

In cronies' pockets.

SteveR said...

I'm always interested (well not really) how the demographic, economic and civil engineering problems with high speed rail in the USA can be made out to be the Republicans' fault. So they just place it in their to confirm that while moving on to how getting Nancy and Harry to strong arm billions doesn't equate to anything but a payoff at taxpayer expense.

Glenn Howes said...

Does anybody else get annoyed when a reporter puts lengths of time being compared into two different units so as to make it an effort to compare? As in this case, the trip now takes 2 hours 45 minutes, and it is projected to take 90 minutes if improvements are made. Why not say 165 minutes versus 90 minutes?

Carl said...

That's about $400 per serious taxpayer. What could you have done with an extra $400 this year? New laptop? Science camp for a child? Learn Italian with Rosetta Stone for your dream vacation?

Welp, doesn't matter. You pissed it away on Obama's vague hopey dreamy ideas. Ha ha!

Big Mike said...

Green energy, high speed rail, the web sites for ACA enrollment...

Progs aren't very good at technology, are they?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Does anybody else get annoyed when a reporter puts lengths of time being compared into two different units so as to make it an effort to compare?

I suspect that the culprit is actually a copy editor following the dictates of the Times stylebook. But, yeah.

Balfegor said...

Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into those projects, critics say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existing Amtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 miles per hour. None of the money originally went to service in the Northeast Corridor, the most likely place for high-speed rail.

On a 30-mile stretch of railroad between Westerly and Cranston, R.I., Amtrak’s 150-m.p.h. Acela hits its top speed — for five or 10 minutes. On the crowded New York to Washington corridor, the Acela averages only 80 m.p.h., and a plan to bring it up to the speed of Japanese bullet-trains, which can top 220 m.p.h., will take $150 billion and 26 years, if it ever happens
.

I think $150 billion is for the entire line. I don't care about that -- just get it faster on some of the long stretches, e.g. the Baltimore-Wilmington leg. I don't think that would even be that expensive. The fact that even the fastest train is still stopping at (from DC) BWI, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, and Newark on the way to NYC slows the Acela down considerably. In contrast, on the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Nozomi trains, which are the fastest, make three stops in the greater Tokyo area (Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, and Shin-Yokohama) after which the next stop is Nagoya, about 200 miles away (roughly comparable to the distance between DC and NYC). If the Acela didn't have to speed up and slow down between each station between DC and NYC, it would be a lot faster, even without any track upgrades. Just add another class of train in between the Acelas (a super-Acela) that doesn't make any of those stops. That couldn't possibly cost $150 billion. I realize it would, however, mean that the fastest train would no longer stop in Joe Biden's territory so of course this is crazy talk.

Apart from that, $11 billion would surely have been enough money to teach those unlettered savages in New York how to schedule which track a train will arrive on before it actually arrives, thereby avoiding the hazardous crush of people rushing all at once to get on a train that is about to depart in 2 minutes. I simply cannot heap enough contempt on the utter morons who run Penn Station in NYC. My lip curls even thinking about that miserable mismanaged rathole.

I imagine $11 billion would also allow Amtrak as a whole to upgrade its systems to permit assigned seating, like they have in civilized countries.

traditionalguy said...

The trains are last century's technology and will never be used if the technology that replaced them is still allowed to compete...cars and airplanes. And they will cost a state subsidy to run around empty.

One might suspect the only attraction of trains for Obama is that the militarized Homeland Security Gestapo can run cattle cars to concentration camps.

mikee said...

The New York Times: not bashing Obama since, well, forever, even when he has deserved it.

All the news they decide will support their political position!

The Godfather said...

No where on earth do passenger trains -- hi or lo speed -- operate without hefty government subsidies. I like traveling by train when I'm not in a big hurry, but I'd rather have my tax money back.

Cheryl said...

Do these people have any idea how much work it takes to create enough wealth to pay $11 billion in taxes?

No. No, they do not. Because they have never generated enough wealth to pay even $1 million in taxes. If they had they would have more respect for money, and not waste it on NOTHING.

The levels of incompetence, on both sides but really mostly lately from Obama, are staggering. I am worried about the next two years.

William said...

The point of high speed trains is not to transport people but to move money......From NYC, just getting to the airport is such a hassle that even the Allegheny Trail looks competitive.

Bruce Hayden said...

Like the complete waste of money California train, none of these projects have a chance unless you lay new roadbed and that costs serious money

Why are the Dems so gung ho for trains? Because they are massive infrastructure boondoggles, where they can make a lot of money. No one should be surprised that the prime contractor on the CA train from nowhere to nowhere was won by the company run by Dianne Feinstein's husband. Its all about everyone on the Dem side of the isle getting their part of the skim.

That project is beyond ridiculous. You can get from LA to San Francisco faster and cheaper via plane. Sure, there are going to be some who would pay through the nose for riding a train instead. But are there really going to be that many? I doubt it. Most will probably continue to save money and fly.

David said...

But as Mr. Obama’s second term nears an end, some experts say the president’s words were a fantasy.

“The idea that we would have a high-speed system that 80 percent of Americans could access in that short period of time was unadulterated hype, and it didn’t take an expert to see through it,”


Says it all.

Another reason to like Scott Walker.

David said...

And just a reminder.

The USA has the most successful and efficient rail system in the world. Also profitable.

For freight.

Which is where the real environmental payoff is, by the way.

Quaestor said...

As a ninth grader I was sent to the United States Model Congress as a simulated conservative senator representing my state. The model convened for a week, i.e. five six-hour sessions. By the third day the place was a madhouse.

The liberals immediately proposed spending bills. One that particularly got my goat was a national monorail system. I cornered a liberal senator and asked her why she was so enthusiastic about a monorail given the fact that conventional passenger rail service is under-used and totally debt-ridden.

But that's old technology, she said. We want a modern monorail like the one at Disney World! (This was well before "Marge Versus the Monorail" of course, and therefore her comment was irony-free.)

So a marginally faster train with one less rail will make people give up cars and planes? I said, that's stupid. (I was an intolerable smart ass even then.) The liberal senator went crimson in the face, slapped me, and ran away in tears.

The academic sponsors of the National Model Congress had so thoughtfully balanced the liberals and conservatives that we got very little done in terms of passed legislation, but we didn't run up the simulated national debt either, which is a considerable accomplishment compared to the actual Congress.

The Drill SGT said...

That project is beyond ridiculous. You can get from LA to San Francisco faster and cheaper via plane. Sure, there are going to be some who would pay through the nose for riding a train instead. But are there really going to be that many? I doubt it. Most will probably continue to save money and fly.

not only is the cost unaffordable, there is no political will by the Dems to actually complete it.

Convince me you have the will?

Get condemnation orders for all those million dollar Menlo Atherton homes you would need to bulldoze for your eventual right of way.

Then start building south from SFO to LA. Then when you run out of money after a few miles, at least you have a BART extension, not some plowed up Fresno fruit trees.

MadisonMan said...

Why are the Dems so gung ho for trains?

Train workers are Union workers.

Nonapod said...

The socialists love of choo choo trains is often stymied by their own ineptitude.

Personally I have nothing against high speed trains. But I'd like to see supersonic trains cris-crossing the country. But that's a long ways off yet.

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...
Why are the Dems so gung ho for trains?

Train workers are Union workers.


and they dont directly use oil.

CA trains would run on electricity from Unicorn farts and Arizona (Navajo) coal plants

gspencer said...

The model trains in my basement run better than Amtrak even hopes to.

Balfegor said...

Re: Godfather:

No where on earth do passenger trains -- hi or lo speed -- operate without hefty government subsidies. I like traveling by train when I'm not in a big hurry, but I'd rather have my tax money back.

The Tokaido Shinkansen is profitable. No way it would have been built without government involvement, but at this point, it is sufficiently profitable that cashflow from the Tokaido Shinkansen (which is run by JR Central) goes a long way towards propping up the other Japan Rail companies (JR East, JR West). Similarly, the Tokyo Metro company (which operates about half the lines in Tokyo) is profitable (their most recent statement discloses income from operations of 99 billion JPY, and net income after tax of about 16 billion JPY). I have not reviewed the statement in detail, but my understanding is that they do not receive operating subsidies (unlike every public transit system in the US), but they do have special access to low-cost financing.

Sam L. said...

They weren't "shovel-ready" and the environmental impact statements were buggers.

Blogger Big Mike said...
Green energy, high speed rail, the web sites for ACA enrollment...
Progs aren't very good at technology, are they?
8/8/14, 11:31 AM
Not even OLD technology, Mike.

Bobber Fleck said...

I'll be watching for a piece by Dan Bice in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that acknowledges that Scott Walker was wise to turn down the $800M federal project for Milwaukee/Madison high speed rail.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Drill SGT: I suspect it would not have to be that bad on the SF peninsula. After all, the CalTrain track and right-of-way is already there. Expanding it or taking it over would be merely very difficult, not impossible. However, in principle I like your approach - it would definitely halt the development for 20-30 years.
The downside is that the money would still be spent, in fact the local populace would prefer it that way, since the $ would be spent on lawyers, EIRs, and politicians. None of that dirty construction stuff, you know? Might get dust on the new wall coverings.

AJ Lynch said...

For every Amtrak rider, the taxpayer, in essence, pays $50 over and above the ticket price. What a deal huh?

I suggest we add high speed bus only lanes [90 MPH or so] to the highways between cities - it would be cheaper and almost as fast.

Freder Frederson said...

No where on earth do passenger trains -- hi or lo speed -- operate without hefty government subsidies.

And where on earth, pray tell, do airline networks or roads operate without hefty government subsidies? Ever consider how much it cost to build an interstate across North Dakota.

Freder Frederson said...

And we have spent $4 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (with maybe another $2 trillion yet to be spent). And what has that gotten us? $11 billion seems like a bargain.

furious_a said...

"Monorail...Monorail...Monorail..."

Barney (1:10) nails it.

Freder Frederson said...

The trains are last century's technology and will never be used if the technology that replaced them is still allowed to compete...cars and airplanes

I assume you mean 19th century, not 20th. But that isn't true, especially with modern high speed trains. If you are claiming that rail is "last century's technology", so are cars and planes.

John Lynch said...

Build better roads. We'll eventually have cars that drive themselves at very high speeds. That's the future.

furious_a said...

Trains and windmills -- liberals are SO 19th Century.

SteveR said...

Just to be clear, the NEPA obstacles to building of even a modest and small scale high speed system are enormous. Having some experience with NEPA, I will go so far as to say, impossible under infinite expense of money and time at the scale of progressive fantasies.

traditionalguy said...

Freder... So you agree with me that in the last century the 19th century's technology got replaced by the 20th century's technology.


Michael said...

Freder:

The 11 billion did not get us any high speed trains, the point of the article.

Quaestor said...

The Tokaido Shinkansen is profitable.

Japan is a special case. (Jeez, that can be said for just about anything Japanese.) Japan is a collection of mountainous islands with nearly everybody crowded into coastal alluvial plains, the medieval Circuits such as the Kanto, and little in the way of spare land for a highways like our Interstate system.

For centuries Japan's highways were so narrow and costly to maintain that wheeled vehicles were forbidden to use them. When Perry made his uninvited "neighborly" visit to Japan one of the presents he brought was a miniature steam locomotive and a circular track for it to run on. When the Japanese saw this their mental wheels started turning with a vengeance.

David said...

Freder Frederson said...
No where on earth do passenger trains -- hi or lo speed -- operate without hefty government subsidies.

And where on earth, pray tell, do airline networks or roads operate without hefty government subsidies? Ever consider how much it cost to build an interstate across North Dakota.


Transportation has been supported by government since the Romans and before. But a proper subsidy should be designed to create a broad and deep societal benefit. Air and road transportation do that quite effectively. Also the direct users (airlines and their customers; trucking companies and private car owners) pay a goodly portion of the subsidy via taxes and fees.

Passenger rail service, on the other hand, is of a far more limited benefit and is not subsidized by users, since the users never generate a profit that can support a subsidy.

The high speed passenger boondoggle does not stop being bullshit just because we have roads and airports. Except in liberal think.

Quaestor said...

And we have spent $4 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars...

Freder Frederson must be a cypto-conservative dedicated to exposing progressive insanity. Only to an insane person does waste of money justify wasting more money.

The mob has spoken!

CatherineM said...

Darn hatin' Republicans!

Todd said...

William said...
The point of high speed trains is not to transport people but to move money......From NYC, just getting to the airport is such a hassle that even the Allegheny Trail looks competitive.
8/8/14, 11:56 AM


That is somewhat true. The other point of high speed trains is to allow rich liberals to support a transportation model that gets the riff-raff off of their highways and allows them to feel better about how much energy they use. Just about NO ONE that pushes for public transportation ever plans to actually make use of public transportation. That is left for the peasants.

BDNYC said...

"While Republican opposition ..."

Obligatory.

Bruce Hayden said...

And where on earth, pray tell, do airline networks or roads operate without hefty government subsidies? Ever consider how much it cost to build an interstate across North Dakota.

Does this mean that you would support the end of diverting of highway funds to light rail, bike paths, etc.? (Apparently, some 1/4 of all federal highway funds, collected at the gas pump from drivers, go to non-highway uses such as light rail, etc.)

Anyone here - any time that you hear that we need more money to spend on roads and bridges, remember that figure, that approximately 1/4 of all federal highway/bridge money is being siphoned off for non-road uses. Bridges falling down? Quit paying for bike paths. Pot holes need filling? Quit paying for light rail with road and bridge money from the federal highway fund.

Of course, Freder appears to believe that those federal highway funds, essentially collected at the pump from the people using the roads, are federal subsidies, since they are routed through the federal government.

buwaya said...

Most of these funds have gone to "consulting" firms that are an essential part of the general system of political patronage and corruption.

B said...

Six million people fly between the LA Basin and Bay Area annually. SF to LA could be a potentially viable HSR route.

In a perfect world it would beat a flight and cost less than $50 billion. But California politics makes it a guaranteed boondoggle.

Kirk Parker said...

"without the patdown"

Yeah, do you believe that, though? TSA is already inserting itself into local train terminals via the aptly (intentionally?) named VIPR program.


Fred Drinkwater,

What is that CalTrain track and right-of-way currently used for?



Freder,

"And where on earth, pray tell, do ... roads operate without hefty government subsidies?"

Right here in the good old USA! In fact, federal gas-tax dollars are so abundant that a large chunk of them are used to subsidize non-road transportion.

Rusty said...

eder Frederson said...
No where on earth do passenger trains -- hi or lo speed -- operate without hefty government subsidies.

And where on earth, pray tell, do airline networks or roads operate without hefty government subsidies? Ever consider how much it cost to build an interstate across North Dakota.

Paid for by what are called direct use taxes. That is the people who use those facilities pay for those facilities.
FYI American and United Airlines built Ohare field.

There isn't one high speed rail network anywhere that isn't funded from their parewnt countries general tax fund. Like the Concord they are mostly for prestige. High speed freight on the otherhand would be immediately profitable and it wouldn't require subsidies.
FYI The CTA was once a privately run bus company.

Jay Vogt said...

An additional $11,000,000,000 spent above and beyond the existing subsidy.

Hmmm . . . Amtrak has a route system of about 21,300 miles. That's about 112,464,000 feet.

Roughly $100 per foot.

Or, the money could have been used to repair about 12,000 of the nation's deficient bridges according to estimates released by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials after the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

Anyone remember the hew and cry after that event? Of course not.

Jay Vogt said...

Oooops BH beat me to it big time. Sorry.

Jay Vogt said...

. . . . ‪B said...
“Six million people fly between the LA Basin and Bay Area annually. SF to LA could be a potentially viable HSR route. 

In a perfect world it would beat a flight and cost less than $50 billion. But California politics makes it a guaranteed boondoggle.”


Nuh uh. Not even close. At $50B, the debt service alone would be about $8.3M per day. If you could run 30 trips a day at 1,500 passengers per trip (mind boggling numbers for high-speed rail) the amount that you’d need to cover the debt – appox $195 per rider – would still be more than an airplane ticket.

the wolf said...

Obama forced through a "healthcare" law that is costing billions, which has not resulted in an increase in doctors, nurses, hospitals, equipment, or anything that that involves in the treatment of people. But they did hire thousands of IRS agents.

jr565 said...

Add the train to nowhere to the non existent shovel ready green jobs.

Freder Frederson said...

Also the direct users (airlines and their customers; trucking companies and private car owners) pay a goodly portion of the subsidy via taxes and fees.

Only if you consider half "a goodly portion"

gadfly said...

Private freight railroads own the track and these money-making enterprises put freight ahead of passengers.

A capitalistic Union Pacific executive defined the problem that dooms Amtrak:

"If [Amtrak] is right to the minute on time and an ass in every seat, we don’t care. If you are nine hours late and nobody is on the train, we don’t care. If you have engine trouble and are stuck, we don’t care. If you bring a few million to the table in incentives, we don’t care. We are a $3 billion company, it means nothing to us. So no matter what Amtrak does. No matter what you do, we don’t care. WE DON’T CARE."

The facts are clear that nostalgia props up the passenger train, but the same people who plead for rail expansion do not ride trains much but they want all Americans to pay so as to keep these train operations sucking tax money.

Americans love their automobiles and if the government would keep their fingers out of the pot, fuel taxes pay for highways. But according to Cato:

"A recent independent analysis found that the average operational loss per passenger on all 44 of Amtrak’s routes was $32 in 2008. The Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles, lost an astounding $462 per passenger."

Freder Frederson said...

Americans love their automobiles and if the government would keep their fingers out of the pot, fuel taxes pay for highways.

This is simply not true. Even if the entire gas tax were spent on roads, it would still not be enough to cover the already inadequate building and maintenance of roads.

traditionalguy said...

OK. We need the steam engines back for nostalgia.

Johnny cash can't sing any faster.

Skeptical Voter said...

When it comes to high speed trains, government spending is roughly as effective as connecting to the shredding mill for used currency at the various US Mints (only use shiny new greenbacks). Chop them up, mix them with water and flush $11 billion (or whatever the spending number is) down the storm drain. It'll make a nice green slurry or mulch for some golf course that uses recycled water. Hey--let's put it on the Bamster's favorite golf courses.

The Drill SGT said...

My father was a 40 RR Man (WP). I like RR's. I took my Eastern wife on a winter AMTRAK trip from Denver to SF trying to relive the experience. However, the AMTRAK operation is marginal at best. The speeds are pathetic. I wont ride AMTRAK again.

PackerBronco said...

Blogger The Drill SGT said...
The ONLY place HS trains should be built until one is built there is Boston to NYC to DC



I would add a HS train from DC to somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

Peter said...

" “This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car."

Unless you need to take a bus to get to the train, and then a bus from the train to where you want to go. Even when passenger rail in the USA was in its prime, a complete trip often meant a branch line to the mainline to another branch line. And the branch lines were slow.

Truly, there's a reason why Ford sold millions of Model T cars even though the roads were bad and there were still passenger rail stations in all but the smallest towns and cities.

Passenger trains compete against buses (lower cost, more flexible), airplanes (much faster for long trips) and cars (usually door-to-door convenience; your own itinerary on your own schedule).

That leaves a few market niches for trains (e.g., commuter trains to/from dense city centers, and subways) but not much.

Even between NYC and either Boston or Washington, D.C., private, buses continue to compete against Amtrak. They're slower, but even without direct subsidies their fares are much lower.

Trains that are truly high-speed are electric and run on their own tracks (not shared with freight). BUT it's very, very expensive to buy and build that.

Amtrak does offer a few high-wage, union jobs however. And if we ever do become dependent on it, we can depend on those unions to regularly hold us up for a truly princely ransom.

gadfly said...

Check out the subsidy per passenger mile chart here.

Highway taxes contribute to hiking trails, bicycle paths, buses, trains, streetcars, planning and even police patrols and when the dust is settled net subsidy is about 10 to 14 cents per passenger mile driven.

Per Randal O'Toole: "Today, federal, state, and local governments divert almost $10 billion a year from highway users to mass transit. By an amazing coincidence, that is just about equal to the amount of money spent building rail transit lines each year."

April Apple said...

What difference does it make?

The only time Obama cares about tax payer waste and fraud is when the government sues him.

dreams said...

Think of the all the bike lanes he could have created, I wouldn't expect him to spend that money on roads or bridges.

John said...

Answer: Warren Buffet

Question: What single individual stands to benefit most from improvements to the rail system.

Another question: What individual would be most hurt by shifting carriage of the Bakken oil and gas from railroads to the Keystone pipeline

Another question: Who is Obie's wealthiest supporter?

Note that there are 3 questions but only one answer.

Follow the money.

John Henry

John said...

How many people here have ever made long rail journeys? for example DC to Waukegan?

Drive in to the city to Union Station

DC to NYC 2-3 hours

Change terminals in NYC. Take a cab from Penn Station to Grand Central.

Ride about 20 hours to Chicago.

Take a cab to change terminals in Chicago.

Catch another train to Waukegan.

Take a taxi or bus to wherever you are going.

Door to door, 30-35 hours.

Not no fun at all!

Let's see a show of hands for those who would travel by train. But only if you've actually done it before.

John Henry

Static Ping said...

If done a few train trips from New Jersey to Boston when the Acela service was starting, though I didn't take the Acela. It was a fairly pleasant experience, though it was still slower than driving and, yes, I had to switch to another train to get where I needed to go which added more time. And fortunately I got a ride to Newark Penn Station because taking a bus there is a pain plus was definitely not risk free. It is not a convenient way to travel. If you plan ahead and the trip is not too long, it can be a plausible option.

I have also taking the trains in the Netherlands and that is a completely different animal. They take their public transportation very seriously with strict time schedules (I missed a bus because I was across the street and since the bus driver didn't see me he didn't even stop), regular convenient trains to wherever you want to go, and easy access through swipe card technology. It allows you to be very flexible with your travel plans. I could get very used to a public transportation/bicycle lifestyle there. Of course, the Netherlands is a land of medium to small cities surrounded by farmland so there are a lot less places to go which makes scheduling a lot easier, gas prices are really high, and so are taxes. Not really a good analogy for the USA.

And, no, I don't know why politicians are obsessed with high speed rail. Seems like a solution without a problem. I suspect that Glenn Reynolds would say it is an excellent opportunity for graft.

Kelly said...

I live in Fort Wayne, IN and my sis lives in Glen Ellyn, IL (just outside of Chicago) within walking distance of the train station. It's almost a four hour drive for me with terrible traffic. 100 miles is traveled on a four lane highway with heavy semi traffic and a lot of stop lights. Last month a semi came over into my lane and ran me and the car behind me off the road.

They're trying to bring a passenger rail line back here that would run to Chicago. I would totally utilize it, but I wonder how many people really would? They just commissioned a study, I hope it goes through before I die.

Rusty said...

Show your work Fredder. You don't have a reputation for honesty.

Balfegor said...

I take trains all the time in Japan. Extremely convenient, in part because the system has been around so long the cities and infrastructure have grown up around the trains. That's something you can't plan out in detail in advance -- they were lucky in how organic it turned out to be. The really planned neighbourhoods (like the complex of hotels and offices east of Shinagawa station) actually have a kind of sterile feel compared to stations like Shinjuku or Ueno, which practically bleed over into the urban fabric. There was obviously a plan there once -- they didn't just emerge from nowhere -- but the city has grown in around them, and they have grown out into the city, with a renovation here, a tunnel there, a department store tower there, etc. The more modern stations, like Kyoto or Shin-Osaka, don't have this, and while they are more architectural, they are also more boring and less user friendly as a result. To me at least.

And I ride the Acela DC to NYC all the time. I used to take the shuttle (US Airways or Delta) but after a few too many multi hour delays and cancellations, I switched to the train. There are delays and cancellations of course (this is the USA, after all) but not so severe and the Acela is a lot more comfortable than the planes used for the shuttles.

Re why politicians love this kind of thing, I think a lot of the impulse is the same kind of "big man" cargo cultish striving you see in third world countries -- like building giant, gleaming monuments or skyscrapers by tiny villages in the jungle. That's the only reason I can see why His Excellency the Governor Edmund Gerald Brown, Second of His Name, is so keen to build a high speed rail line connecting a bunch of villages in the middle of nowhere. Look on my works, ye peasants! Have I not made our Fatherland Great? Hail Edmund II, may he live forever!

The Drill SGT said...

"'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'"

jr565 said...


High speed rail work in Europe because Europe is tiny in comparison to the US

Smilin' Jack said...

Obama has spent $11 billion on high-speed higher-speed passenger trains, but where are they?

Who cares? Only losers ride trains. All that matters is where the money went, and I'm sure Obama made sure it went to the right people.

John Lynch said...

A solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

JackOfVA said...

In 1910, the B&O's "Royal Blue" steam trains made the trip from New York's Liberty Street station to Washington DC's Union Station in 5H 20M, including one stop at Philadelphia and two stops in Baltimore. The Washington to NY northbound run was a bit faster at 5H 00M, with the same two stops.

By the mid-30's, the Royal Blue's time was reduced to 4H.

Rusty said...

Re why politicians love this kind of thing,

The opportunity for graft is enormous.