Monday, April 20, 2009

Lest One Get Too Excited About Bullet Trains . . .

In 2002 in Tennessee Rep. Bob Clement ran against Lamar Alexander, a popular former governor, for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson. During the summer, polls suggested that the race was close, but by October it was clear that Alexander would win easily. Two weeks before the election, I saw Bob Clement speak at a Tying Nashville Together rally. In desperation, knowing that his chances to win were slim or none, Clement said that, if elected, he would work to bring Japanese- and European-style bullet trains to the United States. Up to that point, I had no preference between Clement and Alexander; but his embrace of bullet trains tipped my vote in Clement's favor. I love the idea of high-speed rail.

Thus I was delighted when President Obama last week revealed a plan to devote $8 billion of stimulus money to high-speed rail projects. Unfortunately, the plan is fraught with problems. For one, none of the proposed corridors go through Nashville (or any other city in Tennessee). Bullet trains would serve Birmingham and Charlotte and Louisville and Little Rock but not Nashville and Memphis.

Secondly, as Slate points out, high-speed rail isn't terribly affordable, either for the taxpayer or for the passenger. Moreover, the high-speed trains wouldn't be that much faster than current passenger trains. According to Slate, much of "the high-speed rail would be built using existing track, on which trains can't go much faster than 110 mph." (The term "bullet train" is probably too generous. "Arrow train" would be more accurate.)

So, while I'm glad that the President is talking about fast trains and looking for ways to bring them to the United States, I'll hold my excitement.


Blogger Mahmood Syedfaheem said...

Hi! Your blog is very nice. The photographs are very beautiful. Let us pray for peace for the world. Let us make the world pollution free and save it for our children. Wish you all the best. God is Great.

4:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home