Archive for April 16th, 2009

Obama Is On The Right Track



John Maynard Keynes, the economist who developed the notion of using government money to stimulate a flagging economy, once suggest, “The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up.” That would create jobs, but I’m glad we’re not doing that with the $8 billion dollars in stimulus money allocated for HSR. This money should be spent wisely. But is it? The answer is a resounding yes.


The plan Obama presented today is an extremely logical step forward in creating an American HSR system. Robert Cruickshank of the California High-Speed Rail Blog said today that these guys, “get it”. I couldn’t agree more. Why? Because the proposal that Obama laid out today upgrades our existing infrastructure and the outdated regulations that hold it back. Projects like the California HSR system are splendid efforts but these ambitious projects are expensive and take a long time to complete. That doesn’t negate their viability, but there are many small improvements to the existing rail network in this country that offer excellent cost benefit ratios and can be built quickly. By funding these types of projects Obama has put rail in America on the fast track.


Keep in mind that our rail system has been neglected. The 110 MPH upgrades funded by the stimulus will only repair and rejuvenate a dilapidated system. In many cases these ‘new’ high-speed networks will simply replace aging train sets, bridges and trackage. Why not upgrade them in the process?


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Rail systems in Europe, Japan and China, have fast trains, but the vast majority of these networks are not truly high-speed. Only the backbone of these networks are high-speed. This, in part, is what makes these systems so successful: they have excellent geographic reach through slower speed rail connections. Likewise, true high-speed trains in America, those that go over 200 MPH need rail lines to bring people to them. The $8 billion in stimulus money and the $1 billion allocated in the budget over the next five years won’t transform America’s rail network into the likes of Europe, but it will set the stage to do so in the future.


Today is a historic day: Obama has set a new course for the way we travel in America. That there are now resources available for high-speed rail is a tribute to this President’s pertinacious effort to fundamentally change America for the better. What he has proposed today is a judicious first step that maximizes all existing plans and resources for rail in America. The resources available are limited, but his speech today inspires confidence that he will make the most of the situation at hand.


I laud Obama for this, “first step.”

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Added (4-17-09, 2:35 PM):

Should we take the French approach and build all new high-speed lines or the German approach and build only a couple new high-speed linked with a slightly improved, but older and slower rail network?

France has higher speeds, but Germany (once they finally got going) was able to build their network faster, cheaper, and further by running primarily on legacy track.

© Brian A. Tyler and SwitchingModes.com, 2009.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brian Tyler and SwitchingModes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Obama: “No decision about where to allocate funds has yet been made”


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© Brian A. Tyler and SwitchingModes.com, 2009.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and/or concepts without express and written permission from this websites’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brian Tyler and SwitchingModes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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