The Obama Administration unveiled its high-speed rail plan today, which was met mostly with “why didn’t we do this thirty years ago like all other industrialized nations?” It’s meant to buttress and/or replace the sad-sack Amtrak trains that are notorious for two things: being expensive and smelling like urine.
So we could see the scope of the project, the Administration gave us this map of once and future projects:
Now, I’m a huge fan of high-speed rail, and it looks like there will not only a superfast way to get upstate from New York City, but also North Carolina to New Orleans as well. This plan would rewrite American travel, and I can’t wait. However, despite the title “Vision for High Speed Rail in America”, the map is oddly lacking in, well, vision.
First off, can someone please tell me the inspiration in connecting Little Rock, Arkansas to Texarkana with a magnetic levitation bullet train? Is there something I don’t know about these two towns? I’ve actually done that drive twice, and heard no legends about secret treasure, breathtaking canyons or wild gazelle.
Here’s the thing: not to be a snob, but there is one high-speed train that would capture the imagination of all Americans – even the ones who bristle at the inexorable influence of both coasts – and when rendered in yellow, it looks like this:
The Great American West, the allure of travel, the excitement of America’s promise was not achieved when they connected Cleveland to Akron – it happened when they connected the coasts. As soon as that golden spike was pounded in 1869 at Promontory, Utah, our country was forever bound and we were off to the races.
The new Transcontinental Railroad would connect New York to Los Angeles via Chicago – basically a mashup of I-40 and I-80. All other routes would spine off that one, connecting all of us at 300 miles per hour. Think of it: leave NYC at 8am, none of the cramping of airlineers, free to walk about as you choose, free to sleep (in a bed), eat, read, anything you want. Arrive at Union Station in LA at 10pm. LOVE IT!