The last American investment act sent funds back into our communities. But, the primary emphasis of getting Americans back to work was utilized on roads and bridge infrastructure. Very little of it went back into rail transportation. America needs to recapture the hey day of rail transportation. I have the good fortune to live in an area that has great rail service. From inner city L lines to reliable commuter train service from the suburbs. The only thing missing in my area is the lack of connecting the spokes from the Chicago hub. This past Friday I got to live out a dream train ride in these United States. I was able to ride the Amtrak Acela high- speed rail service from Baltimore to Philadelphia. Mind you that this is America’s only high speed service rail line that stretches from Washington D.C. to Boston. The Acela is the real deal in the best this country has to offer in rail. Quiet, fast, and efficient. My dream trip took only 45 minutes to go from Baltimore To Philadelphia, and that included a stop in Wilmington, DE. (If I had driven by car it would have taken me at least an hour and a half.) The Acela cars were immaculate and comfortable. The service within the train, drinks, café car were well above anything you can get on a plane ride. And speaking of comparing rail tto air travel, there is no TSA, no removing shoes, and no removal of laptops. In fact, Amtrak offers free Wi-Fi to boot. And traveling by rail allows you to see the country like no other mode of transportation. No traffic, no fatigue, just a great travel experience. In America’s past glory days of train travel the railroads built magnificent stations to usher their passengers to the trains. Baltimore’s Penn Station and Philadelphia’s 30th street stations are incredible landmarks that one must take the time to explore. America needs to wake up and start re-investing in rail, and not just plain rail, but high-speed rail. We need high speed rail that links Chicago, to Minneapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and then points east. The east coast needs high-speed links from Philly to Pittsburgh, and New York to Buffalo, Cleveland and eventually onward to Chicago. Regionally high -speed links could connect western cities, and the south could use their own hubs. Eventually we can connect the hubs and usher in America’s next revival of rail travel. This is the kind of investment we need in America. It makes economic sense and it’s better for the environment.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis