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Try Not To Read Too Much Symbolism Here...

OK, here are some indisputable facts:

Both President Clinton Obama and Vice-President Biden are big supporters of railroads.

Biden spent years commuting to and from DC and his Maryland home while he was in the Senate.

Obama is a very strong proponent of expanding Amtrak, and champions high-speed rail.

The Bald Eagle is the symbol of our nation. Even though it's been removed from the endangered species list, it still has special legal protection under the law. You simply don't mess with the bald eagle. I've been privileged to see a few (they are native to New Hampshire, but hardly exclusively).

But put all that aside when you read this tragic story of an Amtrak train running down and killing a bald eagle in Maryland. then carried its corpse like a hood ornament all the way to DC.

(Tip of the hat to Ellen of amcgltd.com)


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Comments (20)

Nothing this area's rail sy... (Below threshold)

Nothing this area's rail systems do could surprise me. I live in Central Virginia (51 miles south of The District - where I work) and am intermittently dependent on Virginia Railway Express to get to and from work. To say that it is undependable is gross understatement. It is not unusual to have scheduled service canceled in part or wholly nor is it unusual for trains to be woefully late in arriving at their destinations. I have been over an hour late for work because of VRE and there have been days when I couldn't even GET to work!

So I do not join Joe Biden in his affection for rail transport. At best I am minimally grateful it exists (on the days I am loathe to drive on the execrable I-95 in either direction) but realistically - I dislike it intensely!

I'm persistently amused at ... (Below threshold)

I'm persistently amused at the left's liking for rail, even when it won't work from a logistical or economical standpoint.

I think it boils down to their liking of control. "You can go to and from here, at this time - but only at the approved times. You can't go anywhere off the route, we won't allow it."

Cars offer way too much opportunity for people to choose where and how they live - or even just pull up stakes and move across the country if they so desire without getting anyone's permission first!

I heard that Lord Stark fou... (Below threshold)
James H:

I heard that Lord Stark found a dire wolf felled by a stag.

Pull the railroad subsidies... (Below threshold)

Pull the railroad subsidies and they'd die overnight.

Europeans have densely packed population centers, with developed secondary transport (trolleys and buses). Since the end of WWII, the US went in the other direction. The control freaks simply want to repack us. Of course the 'ruling elite' will be exempt.

It's funny how the old USSR... (Below threshold)

It's funny how the old USSR used to put up massive apartment blocks, Garandfan. And then we tried such high-density urban housing here... and ended up abandoning the concept.

(I've lived in a number of dorms - the idea loses appeal quickly past 20 or so...)

The elite, however, did have their country houses....

"All animals are equal - but some are more equal than others."

I find the symbolism entire... (Below threshold)

I find the symbolism entirely appropriate for now. ww

I'm persistently amused at ... (Below threshold)

I'm persistently amused at the left's liking for AIRPLANES. I think it boils down to their liking of control. "You can go to and from here, at this time - but only at the approved times. You can't go anywhere off the route, we won't allow it."

The left loves Cruise Ships too, since you can't get off the ship or even eat dinner without following a schedule.

The left probably loved stage coaches too!

And they definitely love toll roads too, since you can only exit where the government allows you to and you must pay!

Ah, poor DSC. Was a nerve ... (Below threshold)

Ah, poor DSC. Was a nerve hit?

Does it perhaps not register that the actions you put up are voluntary actions? That people get to CHOOSE whether they fly or drive, or take a cruise (and the food's not regimented at all on one, by the way...) - and as far as toll roads, you DO understand the concept behind actually paying for the road you choose to drive on, don't you? (And the air infrastucture costs a LOT less and is infinitely more flexible than what we might endup with after spending a couple tril on HSR.)

The left is all for freedom of choice - as long as you make the choices they approve of. They'll approve of you driving an econobox with a motor the size of a sewing machine - but frown severely when you drive (by your own choice, at your own expense) an H3 or some other vehicle on their current shit list.

But don't worry - the left will work hard to make sure you've only got approved choices. And if, ten, twenty years down the line you go "Wait - I used to be able to do (x)" - then the answer will probably be "We had to take it away - too many people were choosing it."

I'm persistently a... (Below threshold)
James H:
I'm persistently amused at the left's liking for AIRPLANES

If Ted Stryker is aboard, I hop off. Nothing good ever happens there.

Both President Cli... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
Both President Clinton and Vice-President Biden are big supporters of railroads.

Looking at Obama, I can see why you might be nostalgic for Clinton.

Add in the fact, DSC, that ... (Below threshold)

Add in the fact, DSC, that the government isn't proposing a multi-trillion dollar expansion of either air or sea travel. The companies involved receive some government support - but they depend on providing a product that people WANT. If they don't, the government won't bail them out with a few tril here and a few tril there.

One last thing - take a look at Amtrak.com, and price (and time) a round trip from, oh, Seattle to Orlando. Depart 15 Feb, return 28 Feb. Cost for cheapest fare (going at least one section by bus)... $764, and it takes about 4 days each way. This doesn't include meals, or a sleeper bed - and as you can find out the cost of eating on a train is a bit pricy... but not terrible.

(Oh, if you get a sleeper compartment they throw in meals, but your price goes from $764 to $2,277.)

Airline? $318 - $359 by the time all taxes and fees are added in - and you'll be there the same day. Of course, they probably won't feed you much, if anything.

I like train travel - but the idea of spending 8 days going from hither to yon and back just doesn't thrill, you know? Not when there's a much cheaper, much faster alternative.

Looking at Obama, ... (Below threshold)
Looking at Obama, I can see why you might be nostalgic for Clinton.
At the rate things are going, we're going to be nostalgic for Carter.

James H,Ted Stryke... (Below threshold)
jim m:

James H,

Ted Stryker? Surely you must be joking!

I am not joking. And don't... (Below threshold)
James H:

I am not joking. And don't call me Shirley.

Jay, Biden commutes DC to D... (Below threshold)

Jay, Biden commutes DC to Delaware, not MD.

I wonder how much 'puggs' p... (Below threshold)

I wonder how much 'puggs' pays out of pocket for transportation yearly? Bet it is less then Me.

JLaw:I happen to r... (Below threshold)
James H:


I happen to really like rail, and a high-speed rail system (NOT the slow, pokey Amtrak) may very well make sense provided we adopt high-speed technologies and measures to prevent destructive (yet delicious!!) animals from wandering into the train tracks. (I don't know about you, but I'd rather not imagine a train hitting a moose at 300 miles per hour)

That said, high-speed rail just doesn't make that much economic sense west of the Mississippi and east of California. Population centers are way too spread out. A high-speed rail from DC to NYC might make sense, though ...

BTW, folks: Relevant to co... (Below threshold)
James H:

BTW, folks: Relevant to comment number 17, keep in mind that for me at least, there's a long distance between "I like it" and "I think the federal government should drop a few hundred billion on it."

The Left has always loved a... (Below threshold)

The Left has always loved a leader that keeps the trains running on time...

I like rail also, James H -... (Below threshold)

I like rail also, James H - but outside the really populated areas of the country (Washington to NY) I don't believe it could be made to work without a lot of subsidy. There simply won't be the rider base needed to make it at all feasible, and jacking the prices up in areas where there is to subsidize areas it isn't will rapidly cause people to find some other way to get around.

And that's not even mentioning the need to (a) get right of ways to put in a network and (b) maintaining interest in the whole idea long enough to get a workable network going... otherwise you'll end up with a half-built system that's cost you a shitload, but can't really be used for anything because it isn't extensive enough to get anyone anywhere.

I thought about high-speed monorail, which minimizes the right of way problem and cuts (at least a bit) security problems... You mentioned the moose problem. What if some bored jerks stack a half-dozen concrete blocks to see if the train would knock them aside?

But monorails have their own problems. (Take a look at Disney World - they use fleets of buses to augment the monorail system there - you can adjust bus flow and surge numbers when needed, which is hard to do with a train or monorail.)

Physically, we could do HSR. Economically - it just isn't going to happen short of some massively overriding need and a heck of a lot of government money. The need isn't there - and neither is the money.






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