We just wanted to expand a little on the Don Phillips opinion piece in the current (December 2007) Trains. The gist is that it may no longer be as much fun to be a railfan.
It got us thinking: Who or what doesn't want railroading to be fun any more?
Don names some names, the TSA and law enforcement since 9-11 for two. But who is really responsible for telling us not to like trains?
Let's start with the axiom: Anything that is enjoyable can be enjoyed too much and is therefore potentially bad for you. It is behind just about every recent prohibition and/or restriction of behavior of the past ten years.
Applied to Passenger Rail, this works in insidious ways. If you enjoy riding trains too much, government will have to post too many subsidies in the next budget. If you enjoy the scenery too much, you may travel by rail to too many national parks and dispoil the landscape. If you stand on the platform and watch too many trains, you may get in an accident on the platform. If you photograph too many trains, one of your photographs may land in the hands of terrorists.
So it comes back down the the risk averse society again. Fun requires risk, and our government just doesn't want us to take the risk any more. And as this becomes the norm, you will find fewer people ready to take the risk.
Trains are no fun when you can't see, feel, hear and touch them. Passenger Rail can be more fun when it is more than a transportation tool. But you are not supposed to use tools improperly.
The sooner our leaders stop treating us like children, the sooner we can start to have fun with trains again.
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Please read Don Phillips' articles, they are a wake-up call.
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Christopher sent some interesting ideas in his recent comments. Common ground is that gigantic projects require lots and lots of money. It is money that we are squandering elsewhere. It is also a wake-up call. Even the builders of Penn Station feared before the project was over that nothing like as monumental a civic project would ever be affordable again. We certainly hope they were wrong!
© 2007 - C. A. Turek - email@example.com