In re: All Aboard Ohio

So I’ve have mentioned time to time (especially when I was in Europe likely) about my love of train travel, in that you can catch the train in the downtown instead of treking to a far-away airport (2 hours ahead of course) wait for security and the rest of the headache. Trains, are simple, you go and get on and end up in your destinations center, you can see the landscape. There are plenty of reasons to like trains, but apparently not here in America. After experiencing European train travel a while back I began to wonder why in the US we don’t have better trains. In fact in Columbus, they no longer have passenger rail service and in Cleveland the only trains come through at 1am and take a slow route to Chicago that doesn’t beat driving.
So what to do? Is it hopelss? When I’ve asked people why not here, they usually say that the US is bigger then the European or Asian examples of highspeed rail. This may be true for stretches of the center, but what about on the East-Coast and the Midwest, not to mention the Westcoast where a train would make perfect sense.

Well thankfully some people haven’t given up, one group All Aboard Ohio has been working to advance forward the rail plan called the Ohio Hub plan (executive summary in pdf), that works to link together a train network and other means of transport. The plan is really promising. I’d hope that if you live in Ohio you’d give the plan a look and then email your state senator to support it (only about 10 so far have) and to do so before friday and ask him or her to co-sponsor Senator Schuring’s Resolution on Ohio Passenger Rail Development.

I’ve often thought how great it would be to take the train to Cleveland if Iwas just going up for a weekend, as I could read or do work, instead of driving up. You might counter this with the Greyhound service that already exists, but I for one don’t find this really an adequate solution, as part of the appeal of the train is the potential for travel at 110mph as the proposal sets out.


5 Responses

  1. Yo Ed,

    I completely agree that trains are a great way to travel. I take the Amtrak Accela Express from Boston to NYC from time to time, and it’s such a relaxing ride. And you get to go really fast. Not bullet train speeds, but pretty darn fast. The best part about the Accela though? The leg room. I can stretch my legs so much in the train. Far more than I can on an airplane or even in a car. Also, the meal car on the train is GREAT. I don’t have to worry that an aisle drink cart is between myself and the bathroom. Which brings me to my next point. Even though it is a public bathroom, so to speak, the train pisser beats the heck out of the airplane pisser. i think it’d be nice to have a rail system in Ohio. But is there enough travel done between the cities in Ohio to justify the cost of a rail system? Personally, I have no idea.

    In either case, Trains are great.


  2. Eddie,

    I took the train all over Europe when I traveled last spring, and it was so convenient, especially considering our travel plans. Besides being a cheaper than an airplane, it was a place my buds and I could sleep over night. We hit eight European cities in 12 days, and when we weren’t scheduled to stay in a hostel, we scheduled an overnight train. It was ideal.

    In the U.S., I’ve taken an Amtrak train from Ann Arbor to Colorado, and it was a beautiful way to get out west. Efficient in terms of time? No. But we weren’t in a hurry. Many travelers are not. Which is why I agree completely with you: a more elaborate and accomodating train grid in America is a good idea.

    Hope all’s well.

    Love cousin Rog

  3. […] I've mentioned several times before how much I like traveling by trains for so many reasons (this being by trains in places that have trains, such as much of Europe)  We on the other hand have no such trains, or at least the closest we've come to a highspeed train in a high traffic corridor was the Acela, which posted fairly reasonable times such as between Washington, D.C. and New York's Penn Station, the transit time is 2 hours 48 minutes, an average speed of 89 mph (143 km/h).  A trip from Boston to D.C. only averages 68 mph, no better than what you can do in a car (of course you have the benefit of not having to drive, but still).  To compare these speeds to the rest of the world is pretty sad, "Eurostar trains run on the hour, speeding London passengers at up to 186 mph to Paris in about two and a half hours, for about $266 round trip. Trains between Barcelona and Madrid soon will reach 210 mph."   […]

  4. Google TGVWeb to get a history of high speed passenger rail service in Europe. Then write your congressman and ask why the US doesn’t have the equivalent — at least East of the Mississippi. Congress has given $$$billions to the airlines in past decade or so — bankruptcy bailouts, airport construction, etc. But they begrudge every penny they give to Amtrak. High Speed Rail in USA would 1) be price/time competitive with airlines in short & medium distances, 2) reduce dependence on foreign petroleum and 3) reduce highway expansion/maintenance costs by taking millions of cars and trucks off of interstate highways, 4) be far more comfortable, convenient, and consistent than airline travel.
    Let’s level the airline/rail playing field, for a balanced, competitive transportation infrastructure.
    Also, make use of coal gasification technology (Governor of Montana’s initiative) to reduce foreign oil dependence. US has 30% of world’s coal reserves, Montana has 10%. At end of WW-II, Germany was getting 100% of aviation fuel and 50% of all other gasoline fuel from coal gasification. Cleaner-burning than petroleum.
    Also, in 1954, Walt Disney built a prototype Monorail system at Disneyland in Anahiem, CA. In 1962, Seattle built a short distance Monorail from downtown to the World’s fair. What’s happened with Monorails since? There’s plenty of Interstate median land to support an extensive interstate Monorail system — if Amtrak steel-on-rail can’t do the job. Write your congressman!! Show him “the vision”!! NOT “business as usual”. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are all in financial crisis. Are we going to “bail them out” like we did the airlines? Let’s spend the money “bailing out” the rail passenger business that the railroads “bailed out” on in the 60’s.

  5. P.S. If we had done all of the above in the 60’s, when Europe started the TGV system, then half of America would not be driving Japanese cars and flying on airlines, both burning Middle East oil.

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