High speed rail for Upstate?

The debate is on whether bringing high speed rail to Upstate is worth the billions of dollars that it will take.

On one side you have people like Representatives Hanna and Buerkle who don’t think that there’s enough of a demand for this service.

On the other hand you have people like Maureen Green who wrote a guest column in The Post-Standard on Saturday. According to Green, “the critics who cite a lack of passenger demand in Syracuse as proof high-speed trains are a waste of money are not only putting the horse behind the cart, they’re riding it.”

I’m reading “Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile” by Taras Grescoe. It’s a fascinating look at transportation systems around the world. The history behind the transportation networks is really quite interesting.

What I have learned is just how far we are behind the rest of the world in implementing high speed rail.

“There is now a train in Spain that is faster than the plane. The platypus-nosed AVE covers the almost 400 miles between Barcelona and Madrid in just two and half hours. The same trip done by jet, counting airport transfers and security line, takes at least 3. (I have taken the AVE. The ride was so smooth that even as we topped out near 215 miles per hour the Rioja in the stemless glass on the tray table in front of me barely rippled.)  In the last few years, Spain has laid 1,200 miles of high speed tracks, a figure expected to increase fivefold by 2020, when 90 percent of the population will live within 30 miles of a high speed rail station. In Germany, bullet trains now average 150 miles an hour… In contrast, the fastest train in North America barely averages 88 miles per hour.”

I’ll be posting some more quotes from the book this week.

Jan

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