Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Passenger Rail Company

APNewsBreak: Icahn Backs Passenger Rail Company.

I’ve recently been accused of being a little too curmudgeonly about the Obama administration’s support of high-speed rail (HSR). (Okay, I’ll use the hyphen.) So it’s time to give credit to the private sector for at least getting on the bandwagon, if not making the bandwagon move any faster.

I take exception to the remark the this is “Obama’s high-speed rail network.” If it comes to fruition, it will be America’s network, and not Obama’s.

America deserves the investment in time and attention to our rail network that, up until now, has always failed to materialize. And I laud Icahn and any non-governmental entity that wants to get invested and make this truly a project of the American free enterprise system.

As readers of this blog know, I am a political conservative, but I have repeatedly talked up the necessity of public subsidy for passenger rail. I am sure that Icahn sees the possibility of turning some of that public subsidy into return for stockholders, and that is the American way. It is the way our rail systems were built, and it is the way they will grow into the twenty-first century.

I give Mr. Obama credit no further than his ability to see the writing on the wall that was writ there by all the rest of us who have been screaming into the deaf ear of political and corporate inertia. The good news is not that Obama is giving away money for Passenger Rail, but that we now have at least two high-profile investors, Carl Icahn and Warren Buffett, who are willing to bet their not inconsiderable fortunes on railroads.

Could Burlington Northern Santa Fe become a test bed for new, non-Amtrak passenger service?

©2010 – C. A. Turek –

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