May 10, 2008 – National Train Day in America

There is a new and rapidly growing awareness that, as a nation, we need to put more money – many billions of dollars, in fact – into all forms of passenger rail service: long-distance, short haul, commuter and inter-city high-speed.

To help focus public awareness on the need for more rail service, today is National Train Day in the U.S.

Amtrak has planned major events in Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and smaller celebrations have been organized in 40 or 50 other towns and cities all across the country, many actively supported by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP).

The basic theme is pretty simple: rail travel is good for people, good for the country, and good for the environment.

Every other country in Europe and most of those in Asia figured that out a long time ago. Now there are encouraging signs that our political leaders are beginning to get the picture, too … although it took $4.00 gas and a near-dysfunctional air transportation system to wake many of them up.

Most of the opposition to better rail service has come from Republican politicians. This is not a partisan comment, it is a simple statement of fact. But many, perhaps even most of them, are now starting to see the handwriting on the wall and come around.

And it’s damn well about time, too!