Why Are We Still Arguing About High-Speed Rail?

Every April, the National Association of Railroad Passengers meets in Washington for three days, one of which is our “Day on the Hill”. That’s when we visit members of our various congressional delegations and either thank them for their support of passenger rail or urge them to begin doing so.
A couple of years ago, one of our people was meeting with a staff person in the office of his congressman … a Republican from one of the southern states. At one point in the conversation, the NARP member expressed the view that the United States had, in effect, become a third world country when it comes to high-speed rail.
That was when this 20-something staff person raised his hand, interrupted the 60-something NARP member, and said, “If y’all gonna continue runnin’ down the United States of America, we have nothin’ further to discuss.”
Of course, the NARP guy was absolutely right: Just about everyone else in the world wonders what the hell is wrong with the Americans? They are all building high-speed rail lines as fast as they can; we haven’t even started.
For instance, the Chinese are building a second generation — or is it the third? — high-speed train that will run at speeds up to 236 miles-per-hour. It is the fastest train in the world currently in regular service.
These photos we taken in the manufacturing plant of the Qingdao Sifang Company just a week ago. This particular design, according to the Chinese, either meets or exceeds all international standards.
Thanks to the insufferable arrogance of that little twit in the congressman’s office and all the folks who think the way he does, we’re still arguing over the merits of high-speed rail in this country. And that’s absurd … an international embarrassment. The argument was over 30 years ago.
You don’t have to like it, kid. But let’s do something about it!