Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fall Vacation

Fall puts a positive spin on train watching and on train riding. In the Northeast and Upper Midwest, the fall colors will be peaking and the view from a passenger train can be nothing short of spectacular.

We urge those who haven't ridden recently to get out and ride a train this fall. Whether it is on Amtrak, a commuter railroad, or a tourist line, your enjoyment of the ride will be significantly enhanced by the fall foliage.

In the South, Southwest and Northwest it will take a little longer for the colors to max out, but the idea is the same. Ride a train and enjoy the foliage.

You can't do it while driving a car and you may not even be able to do it as much as an automobile passenger. With the highways clogged with big trucks and the nation in the full throes of a transportation crisis that the government doesn't care exists, the opportunity to snap a picture of that beautiful scene just may be blocked by the 52-foot trailer on the truck stuck in traffic next to you.

Passenger Rail still goes many places not on the highway and not easy to get to by road.

Many happy rail miles.

© 2007 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, September 02, 2007

State Transportation Plans on Ropes from Rail Runner

I'm dropping the "editorial we" for this episode.

Big surprise of the year. As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, the State of NM may not have the funds necessary to maintain its highways. One of the reasons, the costs borne so far of, and the future cost of getting Rail Runner Express into Santa Fe, NM.

The point of this blog is not to say I told you so . . . even though I did. It is to ask why?

I am not an expert in rail planning. What I am is a die-hard railfan and an amateur rail historian with far more rail books read than written. Although I have made a living on transportation-related functions, I am not a professional transportation expert. And even I knew that Rail Runner was a bank-breaker. (I told the Journal, which is breaking the news as though it is actually news.)

It will continue to be a bank-breaker for years to come.

Herein lies what is wrong with most of, if not all of government today. Government leads the people where it wants us to go, not where the people want government to go. In the case of Rail Runner, the NMDOT is just starting to begin to admit that somewhere down the road they will want to ADDITIONALLY tax us for the privelege of having the rail system that was unilaterally decided on by King William I. (Governor and Presidentialist Bill Richardson)

And this from a state that has almost as much natural resource revenue as Alaska.

Don't get me wrong. I like trains, and I like Rail Runner. It is a fun ride, it is useful to some extent, and it works. It is just not cheap.

Passenger Rail is not cheap.

Our politicians (representatives - this is still a representative democracy, isn't it?) just shouldn't keep lying to us about it. If we want the kind of Passenger Rail service we deserve, we will have to subsidize it.

In the case of Rail Runner, it would be cheaper if the politicians weren't regularly in bed with and beholden to the 1) operators, 2) construction firms, 3) equipment manufacturers, 4)railroad that sold us the right-of-way, 5) ad infinitem. (Names omitted by design.)

Do you know the way to Santa Fe? If not, follow the money.

©2007 C. A. Turek -