Guest contribution from the National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP).
“Mobility. It’s the life-blood of a modern economy. America’s mobility is declining–threatening our future prosperity and quality of life. As driving and flying become less attractive and more expensive, Americans are rediscovering trains. Since 2000, public use of intercity trains has increased three times faster than the population, six times faster than road use and seventeen times faster than air travel. Train travel reached a new record in 2012.
Millions of travelers, however, are unable to benefit from trains because the nation’s intercity passenger rail system is too small to meet the need. While Americans have begun to discover the contribution that passenger trains can make to their mobility and quality of life, the debate about the nature and scope of the intercity passenger train system has dismissed one entire category of trains: those that travel long distances between end points. Long distance train routes form the foundation of the national passenger train network. Their unique capabilities allow them to connect congested urban areas and bring economically viable mobility to rural areas and small towns, many of which are becoming more isolated from major cities as regional airline and intercity bus service disappears.
The time has come to transform the nation’s long distance passenger train network from a neglected, barebones operation into a robust and thriving mobility machine...