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Trumping Up Our Trains


Trumping Up Our Trains

Alyssa Aquino

Every time the train derails, my mother begs me to stay put. But how can I?

Along the densely populated eastern seaboard, your life is structured around transport. Not everyone can live in New York City or Washington D.C., so millions of people who work there commute in. The car traffic qualifies as its own hell, so many take the rail.

Joe Biden famously commuted on a train from Delaware to D.C. These days, I less famously commute from Maryland to D.C. So when Donald Trump announced an ambitious $1.1 trillion infrastructure plan, I was actually excited.


Trump wants a wall. It’s a scam and a lot of what he calls ‘good people’ will make a bundle and a half off the boondoggle. Meanwhile the real needs of our country be damned.

See any high speed trains? Mag lets? Go to China and Japan or Europe. Trump makes us fools for our money and prey to those who plunder! Trump despite all his bluster and bombastic hyperbole… Trump makes us weaker!

We need infrastructure like a new electric grid and high speed trains etc not a fool’s wall that embarrasses us in the world.


The real problem, in the US, and in Canada, to a lesser extent, is that since the advent of (what was, in the 50s and 60s) reasonably priced air travel rail has become a joke. the many regional railroads have consolidated into a few giants, and they dominate the infrastructure, put profit ahead of maintenance as well as safety, and do not actively develop new equipment or infrastructure technologies. In the Chicago area, as well as many other areas nationwide, passenger trains are often delayed by the whim or by the schedules, of freight lines. If the President, or Congress, is even thinking of jobs for those displaced by the decline of the coal industry(once linked at the hip with rail), many jobs could be generated by a large-scale equipment and infrastructure upgrade. after experiencing decades of services declining under Amtrak, the public is largely convinced that passenger heavy rail is a joke. The big freight lines are loathe to make any improvements, because that reduces short-term profitability. It’s not just Trump who is doing the damage, but his idiotic lack of long-term planning is.


It is a question of population density. Outside the Northeast corridor, there is no place in the US that has sufficient population density for anything other than local (commuter) service.

Only 5 US states - all in the Northeast - have population density that rivals Europe. To get train service that works you need high density. For most of the US, airplanes, cars (or buses) are the most effective means of travel.

When I’m in Europe, I take trains. The distances are relatively short and the trains (due to population density) run frequently. If I’m in the US, unless I’m going Boston - NYC or NYC - DC, I’ll fly. It’s faster and usually cheaper.

Passenger trains in the US, other than commuter rail, are a waste of resources.


The fallacy to what you’re saying is interurbans. Look it up. They were a nationwide network of electric trains that covered not just cities but the rural areas between them. They ran from 1900 to 1930 when the US was much less densely populated than now. They also didn’t cause the pollution that cars, buses, and planes cause.

We also had passenger trains that ran nationwide through most rural areas until the mid 1960’s when the US was less populated than now.

Canada still has nationwide passenger trains and is less densely populated than the us.

Think of the jobs that could be created if we brought this back with it powered by solar or wind electricity.


Alyssa, I wish to compose an alarming counter-argument to WWSmith’s simplification of why the US train and transit systems are so ineffectual. Sufficient population density alone isn’t a complete explanation nor the main reason which has more to do with money and controlling power over others once the automobile becomes a transportation system monopoly. Henry Ford in 1914 began paying employees the unheard of $5 an hour so they could buy a Model ‘T’ and drive everywhere rather than use the streetcar. Since then, car manufacturers and related business interests have devised numerous means to monopolize the travel market. In modern cities around the world, transit is limited by design so the car remains the main or only choice, even when transit should be considered a fundamental mode of urban/suburban travel especially for sprawling metropolitan areas including within the USA. You need not look further for signs of devious corporate manipulation than the popular notion of the self-driving car which is a ruse posed as a solution and a fraud meant to keep real solutions to the problems of car-dependency off the table. Automobiles have created living environs that drive people to seek vacation getaways in advertised unspoiled lands, only to find the automobile overrunning those places as well. I’m not saying we should go back to horse and buggy. The electric car - plug-in hybrid more than all battery EVs - have the potential to transform regional utility grids, promote photovoltaic solar energy, reduce energy consumption overall and direct development whereby the intractable need for daily long distance travel could become a thing of the past. DJTrump may be a demented mob boss, but he is following the policy directives of the same business interests who’ve led us down the path to regional conflict and World Wars I and II and now WWIII. The ruling elite are preparing for war as population control. Religious fanatics like Pence will call it Armageddon in public though he’ll have his own guarded estate for his family to live in seclusion, far from the death toll while the world burns.


The only reason Amtrak continues to survive, 46 years after it was launched on May 1, 1971 is that the GOP never had the control of gubmit that they now have. There was always push back in Congress or the White House that kept funding Amtrak just enough to keep the trains from derailing too often. With Trump and the current GOP Congress in control, rail industry experts from the left and the right are advising everybody interested in rail travel to buy tickets in 2017 or likely be limited to hopping slow moving freight trains thereafter.

One of the most notable differences between European fascism and Murkin fascism is at least the European fascists prided themselves on keeping trains running on time. Amtrak schedules have been some of the greatest works of fiction Murka has ever produced. Nobody has lamented the December 2016 end of printed Amtrak schedules.

Public Passenger rail service will survive only where states cough up money. A private operator is starting service in Florida. Lets hope that works out well.


Nonsense. It is deliberate dis-investment, influenced by “interested parties” in the fossil fuel, automobile, and war industries. Despite the intentional flooding of subsidies and investments to these industries, and the intentional starving of rail in the USA, rail is more efficient for running our national transportation system. If the trillions in investments and subsidies that have gone to pavement, oil and cars over the past 100 years, had instead gone to rail, electricity and trains, the USA and its people and ecology would be far better off than we are today.


Correct, there were interurban rail lines. Which were replaced by the mass availability of cars and the reduced cost of air transportation. People prefer the convenience of running on their own schedule to having to transfer from interurban to interurban to street car.


Your arguments defending the automobile are correct only in the simplest assessment plainly attributed to typical rightwing talking points. If you’d care to read my previous post, I’ll make only one correction: “Henry Ford in 1914 began paying employees the unheard of $5 (an hour) so they could buy a Model ‘T’ and drive everywhere rather than use the streetcar.” The unheard of wage then was $5 a day. The only questionable aspect of that post is that we are being led into WWIII; and by questionable I mean, we’d all better begin to question if that is or isn’t the case. Trump sees himself as a member of the ruling class, though his background is that of a mob boss entertaining the true ruling class villains such as oil industry moguls Rex Tillerson, Warren Buffett, Charles and David Koch who couldn’t care less about the fate of humanity.


“right wing talking points???”

Saying that people like the convenience of a car and the speed of an airplane are right wing talking points? Pardon me, but WTF?


It would be WONDERFUL to have a great rail system in this country.

Doubt if it will happen.building a better railway system…as everyone is brainwashed into thinking it is not American to not have/use a car or cars…

after all there is the “American love affair” with cars.
People seem more concerned with MORE road and parking spaces, than real, viable alternatives.
Ergo, no politician ever mentions it., or only does so at election time, and
after election it is forgotten
I am a Native New Yorker/ lived in area my whole life…the MTA subway system has been
crying about 1) not having enough money (2) breaking down,
since I have been a CHILD…and I am sure hell no child now…(60 plus years).
…they ain’t fixing the NYC subway system anytime soon…maybe not in my remaining lifetime…


That’s the whole problem, isn’t it…?
people think of their own interests and comfortability first.

that is why there is NO action on global warming to speak of;
no real Resistance Movement of any note
no protests against the mass murder of people being bombed relenetlessly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen…

however, this self-interest and “comfortability” demand, is all going to make people very uncomfortable in the future…
of course, then, it may be too late.
…rail lines and mass transportation could be made more convenient if there was more demand/pressure
but there is not…
however, you do see more destruction of forests and open spaces, all to service the demand for more cars…
because there is where the pressure is to do something.


Rightwing leaders of business, industry and media pass on to their conservative rank-n-file your exact arguments against transit, and are as defensive about it when questioned. Chaotic rush hour commuting, long-distance driving generally, and luxury air travel not only imperil the natural environment, they are the central component of corporate control of the economy by which the wealthy derive their fortunes and luxuries from the expensive burden placed upon the middle class and poor.


Hmmmmm…Trump proposed the $1.1T infrastructure bill just a couple weeks ago; anyone who has worked with the government knows it takes years to implement said funding. Have you forgotten that Amtrak inhales $1 Billion in taxpayer dollars annually and the rail system is still in disrepair? You may want to take a hard look at the labor unions who squander millions of our dollars each year.
You’re way off track, darling!


Tellingly, 100 years ago US passenger trains traveled faster and were more reliable and accessed almost the entire population. The rails were in much better shape. That may be because the .01% traveled by private rail. Now they travel by private jet. No need for good rails when a tax cut is needed. On Buffets BNSF as on all commercial lines freight takes precedence over passenger.
The US had the best rail transport in the world in the 30s before a massive corporate conspiracy that destroyed it and left people with no alternative than the car.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySnk-f2ThpE


Are you truly that ignorant?

“Interested parties” in the rubber, gas, and automobile industries BOUGHT AND DESTROYED many interurban rail lines, in order to game the “free” marketplace and impose their self-interested “freedom” on people and the Earth.

You are indeed a mouthpiece for pre-digested talking points from right-wing think tanks. No use trying to educate you, but others here know the facts.


Amtrak’s tiny subsidy is truly microscopic compared to the massive trillion-dollar subsidies that have been gifted by a bought government to the pavement, automobile, and oil industries.


The country would be well served by high speed mag lev train service. Airlines bribe to prevent it. Britain emerged with old technology post WWII and saw the bread up or rather the breakdown of the British Commonwealth. Nostalgia sort of saved it to some extent but it was only the retooling of the British tech that preserved Britain’s status and manufacturing etc. included in that were modernized rail.

This country should be zipping to and fro on high speed rail between its major cities and all of it could be run without fossil fuels energy. Instead we have Trump corruption!


Could it be possible that the royal family which has interests in BP and the Iron Lady who was in thrall to the banks had something to do with the breakup/down?