Friday, August 29, 2008

Two Items, Both Rail Related

First, the post from DailyKOS:
It's becoming well known that Joe Biden commutes 100 miles a day by Amtrak. He pays for the service like anyone else, and appreciates it so much that he not only throws an annual Christmas party for the crew on his train, he stopped in to say goodbye to his "Amtrak family" before heading for Denver.

If you want an expanded passenger rail network, having Joe Biden in a place to impact national policy is a good bet.

And now, John McCain. Not only has John McCain been part of the Republican attack crew trying to dismantle Amtrak, John McCain has been the leader of this effort. When it comes to passenger rail, Trainwreck McCain is public transportation enemy number one. He's worse than Bush. And though the "Straight Talk Express" has a Get on board the McCain Train banner, that's just another example of how McCain's talk is anything but straight.

How did Barbara Tuchman define the March of Folly? When a nation fully in possession of the facts nevertheless persists in acting against its own self interests.

We, as a Country, simply can't afford to not have a (and the best) national rail system going forward. We are simply too spread out for commerce (and personal travel) to work effectively (or at all) given where energy and transpo costs are at (and heading). [Hint: It will never get significantly cheaper and the Hydrogen magic bullet is a blank.]

Secondly, watching HBO series Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys (for the record I'm a lifelong Steelers fan - and while I don't hate the Cowboys, I do harbor some Schadenfreude towards Tony Romo, for various reasons primarily for his phoniness), shows them travel from their Carson City training camp facility to San Diego for their first preseason game.

Their mode of travel: Train.

The most enlightening part however, was how much more comfortable the trip was for all involved. Spatial efficiencies are at work with trains. They can be as long as need be where planes are defined by engineering characteristics, thus limiting their ability to compete while train technology begins to approach air travel speeds.

Also of note, the view along the Pacific as the train headed down the coast line.