Adding High Speed Rail

Recent comments by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and other reporters at CNN have criticized the new rail installed in New Hampshire because the service was not high speed rail as found in Europe. This group of reporters did not do their job in finding out the limitations of high speed rail service over existing rail lines. For example, several years ago I was parked next to a man who was an engineer on a train for Union Pacific. He was telling me about the limitations of passenger train travel over existing rail lines and why passenger train speeds were limited over the lines. He told me that the rail lines were no longer short links of rail but were a mile and a half of a continuous rail. This was done to take out the clicks and clacks sound made by the trains rolling over short pieces of rail. The rails worked very well for freight trains but not for passenger trains. Freight trains travel at relatively low speeds compared to passenger trains. Passenger trains tend to derail at speeds above 50 to 60 miles per hour particularly during hot summer months because the rails expand and the passenger trains which are much lighter derail at high speeds.

High speed trains in France have their own dedicated rail lines which are enclosed by high secure fences so that no animal or person can get onto the rail line and cause the train to derail and cause an accident. So if we are to have High Speed train travel in the United States, we would have to build dedicated rail lines to be used only for Passenger trains. This might seem like a unneeded expense, but when one considers the expense and congestion at airports, I would opt for the comfort of high speed rail over air travel. I have read about the use of special airlock terminals where one could board a train and exit a train without it stopping. This sounds much like the old movies on Star Trek, but I am can imagine some very intelligent engineer designing such a system.

It continues to irritate me that the Republican Party is intent on not spending any money on our decrepit infrastructure for outdated bridges, freeways, schools, railroads, and so forth. The latest ploy to vote down the talking filibuster is and example of the lack of rational leadership by Republicans in the Senate. In any business one has to spend money in order to build and business and earn money. Investing in rebuilding our infrastructure would put millions of unemployed people to work and would be paid for by increased public benefits.