Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fast track

Poor Amtrak. America's national railroad stumbles from woe to woe. Recent troubles with the so-called "high speed" Acela train in the Northeast Corridor suggest that we can't even do a halfway job right.

Meanwhile, Europe, Japan and now China race ahead in high-speed rail technology.

The Paris-Nantes run in France, about the same distance as Boston/New York, takes just a bit over 2 hours -- from city center to city center less time than you could fly. Paris/Bordeaux, about the same as Boston/Washington, takes 3 hours, in spacious comfort, with all the amenities, compared to 8 hours presently with Amtrak.

In 2007 Britain will open a new Channel Tunnel/ downtown London dedicated high-speed link, a marvel of engineering through the most densely populated part of the country. It will be possible to travel from London to Paris in less time than it would take to get to and from the airports.

Europe's 1900 miles of high-speed rail line now in operation will expand to 6200 miles by 2020. And these are trains that travel up to 180 mph.

America deserves such service, especially in the Northeast Corridor.