With Amtrak ridership running 35 percent above normal in the wake of restrictions on air travel, now is an opportune time to reinvestigate trains as a viable alternative to flying for short and medium length trips. While the benefits of flying cross-country are indisputable, trains hold many advantages for these shorter journeys.

The federal government?s current plan to force Amtrak to profitability is flawed. They can?t be expected to make a profit when the government requires them to continue servicing cities and running lines that are simply not profitable.

What is needed is to allow Amtrak to function as a real business, without government restrictions on cutting services and with capital investment to create regional high-speed rail links American metropolises.

Those high-capacity, high-speed connections between cities could prove invaluable to transportation and passenger service.

Trains surpass the convenience of a plane in simplicity and level of comfort. They give more legroom, the ability to walk around at will and use your electronics the entire trip and without the inconvenience of turbulence and bad weather canceling trips.

Having traveled the entire Western seaboard via Amtrak, the views can be absolutely spectacular, well worth the trip.

The key is to not do these regional trains in a half-hearted manner like the Acela train was. The Acela could travel 150 miles per hour but is limited by low quality rail lines and sharp corners which cause it to travel as slowly as 15 miles per hour at points. That line is on modified traditional lines and this results in a bumpy ride at times.

Compare this to the speed and smooth rides of the magnetically levitated Bullet Train of Japan and the TGV of France, which can reach 168 and 187 miles per hour respectively.

The U.S. has been grossly surpassed by other nations in the efficiency and popularity of its trains. They haven?t been a viable option for quick regional travel.

A MagLev train does not have any emissions, as they use electromagnets to levitate and propel the trains.

While there has been much discussion of these trains as being the future of rail transportation, we now have the impetus and the public awareness of railways as a viable alternative to air travel to allow the development of these high speed regional rail connections.

Let us improve our overall national transportation infrastructure instead of continuing in our old approach of funding only airports and freeways.

Paris can be reached at tparis@campustimes.org.



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