We have been absent for awhile attributable to vacation. (We don't get much vacation, and self-imposed deadlines readily fall against the prospect of real relaxation time.)
Vacation was, in part, a driving trip. Some of the trip was along the old Frisco route from St. Louis to Springfield, MO. (Interstate 44) Got us thinkin' about the possibility of Passenger Rail on this route. There is, at least, a spoken committment by MODOT to get this up and running.
Lots and lots of the route that is visible from the Interstate has many degrees of curvature and is built either on fill or in deep cuts. We do not know the profile, but it would be a fair guess that it is from moderately to extremely hilly.
Then we thought about the list we put on this blog awhile back about what a new generation of passenger rail should look like.
We didn't think of this one, but it has got to be useful.
This route through MO seems like a mighty nice scenic route, but we wonder if it is useful in that the track speeds for passenger service have certain got to be restrictive. This route is as best, perhaps, utilitarian. Every year the traffic on I-44 gets worse, and at one point (about 20 mile east of Lebanon) it is the only railroad (that ever was) for at least 50 miles in all directions. People in these areas might ride it no matter what the schedule. So it could be utilitarian, but not really useful.
Much of the US rail network was built to engineering standards that are long outmoded. And we are still using these lines except where freight traffic increases have justified heavy investments in building to twenty-first century standards. (Before you comment, we think that the NE Corridor is just barely making it into this century.)
We know that eventually MODOT or USDOT will pay for revamping the Springfield - St. Louis line. And it will then be a mighty nice scenic line with slightly better track speeds and scheduling. It won't be high-speed rail.
When - oh, my darling when - are we in this otherwise blessed country going to be blessed with the brains to realize that our transportation systems have gone to pot in a big way.
Revamp nothing! Let's get politics out of our national security by getting everybody to pay $40 a year (and we mean no exceptions - kids break those piggybanks and smoker's and drinkers you know this isn't big bucks compared to what you burn and guzzle) toward the war against Islamic Terror, and then let's start using some of those highway trust funds (and highway taxes paid by the biggest users of them) to build transportation systems that are faster, easier and more fun.
Flying ain't no fun, the bus ain't no fun, and we can truly say after this trip that driving ain't no fun.
Passenger Rail is the only existing people transport system that qualifies for all three criteria - fast, easy, fun! Let's do it. Politicians hear this, the public will love ya for it!
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