Monday, August 24

American Railroad Fantasies

I have this fantasy of living near railroad tracks to indulge in some performance art. Not just any kind of performance mind you. When the daily passenger train goes by I would stage some entertainment in full view of those looking out the window until Amtrak calls me to “cut it out.”

“We really insist Ms McLaughlin that you desist from staging mock executions, strangling your neighbor or slaughtering a cow with a chainsaw. These disturbing stunts must stop. Passengers are complaining and some have been traumatized by your antics.” they would plead.

Their pleas will fall on deaf ears. I love riding trains, I think it is the coolest way to go. Much better than airplanes. No long check in lines, no stripping to get through security. They have food- not half bad- on most trips. The seats are fairly roomy, you can walk around and watch people, a movie or the scenery. However we are one of the few industrialized, rich countries that doesn’t have efficient, extensive passenger rail service and I hate that. Some form of protest of this poor state of affairs must go on until things improve.

“Hey, when you burecratic niwits figure out how to improve the lousy, expensive train service in this country then I’ll stop with the Quentin Tarnatino hour.”

While politicians wail about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, we build more roads and Amtrak has to go begging every year to get any subsidy. Mind you we have been subsidizing airlines for decades, we bail them out constantly. Meanwhile Amtrak’s on time service sucks because the train has to pull over for freight that share the tracks (Don’t even get me started on Union Pacific’s “screw you” attitude toward their customers and Amtrak ).

The current adminstration has pledged money to upgrade tracks and bring high speed service to some national corridors. Hmmpf, rail enthusiasts have heard that before. The Pacific Northwest has been trying to get a fast train line from Eugene Oregon to vancouver BC for more than ten years. Daily trains from Portland to Seattle are often sold out.

Instead of doing the same song and dance about helping the enviroment, changing our way of driving, blah, blah, blah let’s get on the fast train to the future like France, Germany and Japan have done.

Now who lives near some train tracks and will join me in the quest for better passenger rail service?

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