Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why does rail suck?

It's gotten to the point where I absolutely hate flying and long for a return to a more civilized age of rail travel. Unfortunately passenger rail (in the United States anyway) is government enterprise, and they do it about as well as they do everything else.

Megan McArdle explains:

Why isn't there a high speed train from New York to Chicago? Well, first of all, this would greatly anger legislators from New York and Michigan, who like the fact that the Chicago train must pass through Buffalo and Detroit, even if this assures that almost no one with a job will actually use it.

There's also the problem of the Federal construction process. The high speed train between DC and Charlotte was first conceived in the early 1990s. The EIS for this project will be completed probably sometime in 2010. Then we have to get final legislative authority. Then we have to put out the project for bids. By the time the thing is actually built, we'll probably all have evolved an extra leg and be able to run faster than the high speed train.

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