To the Editor:
As I gazed out the window of the Amtrak auto train from Sanford to Lorton VA/DC lumbering along swaying from side to side at about 50 mph, I remembered another train trip several years ago from Beijing to Shanghai. My trip to D.C. was going to take about 16 hours and my ticket said it was 837 miles. I quickly looked up the distance from Beijing to Shanghai on my iPhone and it was 820 miles – almost the same. Remembering the China trip, it was smooth, like floating on air, no sway, no bumps and the digital read out on the wall of the car said we were going 300 km/hr. The trip took only 3.5 hr. I have traveled on the TGV in France with a similar experience. The technology of the Chinese train is magnetic – for those who remember their high school physics, it is neg-pos-neg-pos-neg magnetic attraction with rapid electric charges providing the polarity changes.
Not only are the roads and bridges in the USA in terrible shape – getting an average of a D grade by inspectors, a national transportation system by train is virtually non-existent and ancient/archaic by the standards of other western countries and China. Most credit politicians and the monied influence of the oil industry for keeping us wedded to cars and ignoring other forms of people transport. I liked Gov. Bush in Florida, but the first thing he did in office was cancel the planned project of linking Miami-Tampa-Orlando via train, despite right-of-way and funding already underway. Most said it was the Bush connection to the oil industry influence in getting him elected.
America is so far behind it will take massive effort and sustained efforts through several political administrations to get us even close to the levels of other nations. It will be a shame if future politicians cancel the start that the Biden administration is planning to get the projects going.