High Speed Rail Reps From China, Europe, and Japan Tell US Congress To Get On Track

21 de abril de 2007

<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>High Speed Rail Reps From China, Europe, and Japan Tell US Congress To Get On Track</h1><p>April 21 (EIRNS)-- . A panel of witnesses, including from Spain and France, spoke at an April 19 hearing in the House of Representatives, titled, "International High-Speed rail Systems," held by the Committee on Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. Their testimony included maps, charts and graphs showing progress over the past 20 years in many locations, in contrast to the United States, where rail has declined drastically. Subcommittee Chairman Corrine Brown (D-Florida) said that, "we are the caboose," on the high speed train. She asked the panelists for advice on how to "jump start" high speed development.</p><p>A line up of other Congressman shared her view. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Chairman of the full Committee, said, "We have regressed instead of progressed" in this country from where we were 50 years ago. "Then," he said, "I took a train from Minneapolis to Chicago. Four hundred miles in 400 minutes. That was 50 years ago. You can't do that today," as the service doesn't exist. It comes down to "political will," he argued. Oberstar then insisted, as a nation, we must do what we used to do: invest for the public interest with public funds for the public good.</p><p>"In the aftermath of World War II," Oberstar said, France was devastated as was much of Europe. "Under the U.S. Marshall Plan we were producing and shipping 1,000 rail locomotives a year to France," and other countries. He described how, later, French President Charles DeGaulle in 1967 called for a study on high speed rail, as he contemplated rebuilding his nation. The study came back, nay-sayers said it was too expensive, but DeGaulle asked: "Is there any other country that has it?" When told `no', he said then France would be the first. Oberstar noted France's high speed route from Paris to Lyons had 500,000 passengers in 1989 and today it has 5 million, surpassing air service.</p><p>Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn), from central Pennsylvania, raised the idea of magnetically levitated rail development. He reported that the Keystone corridor, between Harrisburg and Philadelphia (the old and original "Main Line") has just been re-electrified, allowing trains to travel at 110 mph; and in just six months ridership has grown beyond expectations. But, he said, we need to "jump to MagLev. Transrapid has just completed further work on the proposed Pittsburgh MagLev project. We are ready to move if there is funding for it."</p><p>The nay-sayer of the day was Transportation Committee Ranking Member Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), who used his opening statement to denigrate all Amtrak operations, including its Acela high speed Washington, D.C.-to-Boston service, and argue for British-style privatized rail systems. Mica is already on the hotseat among constituents for Amtrak's forced cut of its cross-peninsula Jacksonville-to-Dade City service three years ago.</p></div></body>