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  • All Aboard the Crazy Train

    The left is all atwitter over the Obama administration’s release of their High-Speed Rail Plan, which, as with most everything that comes out of the Obama administration these days, is long on hope, short on details, and completely out of touch with reality.

    The plan includes an $8 billion “down payment” from the $787 billion stimulus package and calls for another $5 billion from the FY 2010 budget. This $13 billion will be spent in two rounds: 1) “on projects that can be completed quickly and yield measurable, near-term job creation”; and 2) funding for “comprehensive high-speed programs covering entire corridors”. Obama has identified ten such corridor’s including the “California Corridor” and the “Chicago Hub Network.”

    Sounds nice and all, but the reality is the first round of spending will not go to anything that can be accurately called “high speed rail” and the second round of spending is comically short of what it would cost to implement Obama’s dreams. Heritage scholar Ron Utt explains:

    In 1991 legislation was enacted to permit the Federal Railroad Administration to designate 10 high speed rail corridors. Because of the exceptionally high costs and limited benefits of HSR, nothing has ever been done to get anything underway on any of these corridors–until now, that is.

    The definition of HSR, as applied to those in European and Asian countries, is passenger rail service that averages more than 150 miles per hour, which can only be achieved on very expensive, dedicated lines that serve only HSR. Since no such lines exist in the U.S., any HSR would have to first acquire a right of way, buy the land in it, lay the very costly track, and buy the new equipment.

    Under the circumstances, the $8 billion is woefully short of what is needed to complete a single system, and the President and Congress know it, which is why the $8 billion should be viewed as little more than an amuse-bouche to keep the nation’s influential rail hobbyists happy and content.

    Just to give you an idea of how expensive Obama’s plan would be, the USA Today reports that the California Corridor alone is estimated to cost $50 billion. We’re sure that Team Obama will find a home for the $13 billion in their train slush fund, but don’t expect to purchase your Houston, Texas-to-Portland, Maine high speed rail ticket in this life.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to All Aboard the Crazy Train

    1. Bethany Murphy, DC says:

      I wrote an email to the authors of the WSJ article about it. This is what I said:

      Thanks for your article on the new high speed rail funding. In future pieces I would love to see the service and price issues surrounding taking the rail system in the United States addressed. I live in Washington and often have to go to New Jersey for business. It's more reliable, sometimes quicker, and much less expensive to take the Bolt Bus to New York and double back on the NJ Transit commuter line than it is to take even the regional Amtrak rail, let alone the Acela. The only time it is affordable (but never cheaper) is when I take a train leaving after 8pm, landing me in New Jersey close to midnight. While waiting in Penn Station or Union Station I often take pictures of the Amtrak scheduling boards for fun, and it's not uncommon for there to be more trains running late and that are canceled than trains that are actually running on time. While I am completely reliant on public transportation (I don't own a car or even have a license, I was a city kid), I don't support the furthering of Amtrak's reliance on government bailouts and handouts. Without the pressure to perform adequately and affordably, the US taxpayer is going to continue footing their bill.

    2. ozzy6900 says:

      HSR will work in many areas where the railroad can obtain property. It will not work North of NYC because the line North of NYC to Boston was built at the turn of the 20th Century. It has been upgraded with overhead catenary, eased curves (very few) and elevated curves. There is no property available to expand the roadbed to allow speeds higher than 120mph (on straight-a-ways through RI). You will never see the likes of the TGV or Bullet Train between NYC and Boston unless the roadbed can expand and the only way to do that would be through Eminent Domain! Add to this the fact that the Acela is so damn expensive that a normal commuter can't afford it. But President Obama thinks that all he has to do is speak the words and it will happen!

    3. Neil Berry, Indianol says:

      Such a standard diatribe from the right! Don't you ever get tired of being the idiots? Face it, the right lost and continues to lose public approval. The "loyal opposition" has sunk to the "seditious opposition" and is verging on the "traitorous opposition". Were the roles reversed, we WOULD be in a police state.

    4. enerwise, sc says:

      Let me see if I got this right, our government is borrowing funds to build the most expensive rail upgrade that is known?

      why not just a regular train that people can afford to pay to ride on,

      O ya I forgot money is no problem.

      vote for your lives.

    5. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Another stupid idea out of an emotional attachment to an idea that has no economically justifiable rationale. European countries are small and had the rail links that would make sense for them. They are not cheap either.

    6. David, St. Louis says:

      I'd be curious to here what Heritage thinks about transportation subsidies generally. Amtrak gets a lot of flack from the right because it appears that it would not survive without government funding. But the truth is, we subsidies our airlines too, and airports are generally maintained by governments. I've heard that the airline subsidy per passenger mile is greater than we pay for Amtrak. Bus lines travel over roads paid for with tax dollars. If all transportation services really were made to fight it out in a really free market, I don't know who would win.

    7. Ron, Derry NH says:

      I have road the rails from New England to Florida.

      I would love a high speed train, however, I would prefer the government stop thinking it can fit a square peg into a round hole, and let market pressures and investors decide these expensive ventures.

      Obama is a child playing with a nations future and budgets like an infant in a candy store. His inability to have any restraint or understanding of cause and affect proves once again that college education is a starting point to learning not a documentation of enlightened wisdom.

      This spending spree is demoralizing to watch as a man with no experience in so much as developing a lemonade stand to profitability, is setting in motion a dream of an America he read in a comic book at bed time or a back room corner with a bunch of liberal pot heads. So devoid of responsibility or mechanical know how of how to get from point A to point B is every one of his plans, one becomes totally convinced he is either a madman or just arrogant beyond anything we have ever seen coming out of Harvard.

      I would like money to flow out of my rectum when ever I pass gas, but quite frankly money needs to be earned from a result of a productive marketable venture. Dreams don't produce value unless they are aimed at marketable values with return on the investment. Otherwise the foolishness costs every one involved heart ache and loss. I understand risk, I am self employed. I understand generosity as I spent 13 years as a volunteer youth leader.

      I would never risk some one elses life or future with dreams I could not guarantee by my personal efforts. That is responsibility.

      All Obama is guaranteeing is national debt and unfulfilled dreams of hope based on exploitation of ours and the next generations earnings.

      This child is being foolish and all congress can do is applaud his bravado. Every one in the real world knows it isn't courageous to risk some one elses money or put in danger other peoples lives, just because you have a moment of inspiration and would like to experiment with your ideas on their dollar.

      How's Castro's great vision going down in Cuba?

      Dreams without purpose or the financial fortitude to develop them along with producing a valued sustainable desire for them, are nothing but curses brought on by madmen. These dreams ingratiate their egos, as they fall short of the godly stature that they see themselves having.

      His vision of America is based on his greedy ego to be inventive and pretend to solve economic and social dilemmas he believes are a result of Americas methodology. His cohorts in congress believe they are the righteous inventors of a new way.

      I would like to remind them that money is a measure of the value of humans that create and sustain that value by productivity. money doesn't come out of thin air, nor the anal cavity of congress, but I know after seeing them in action these past 40 years it is perhaps where they get their ideas from.

    8. PM Dooling says:

      Everything (Yes, every dime) the government spends comes out of our pockets, including their salaries. – It is time to tell them who to fire.

    9. Shawn says:

      Maybe you can look at this as the 21st Interstate Railway system, just as the 20th century ushered in the interstate system today. Just look at what that did to the economy and its after effects.

    10. Eugene Hoffman, Hous says:

      What does common sense dictate? It dictatates that if a profitable, effective and obtainable high speed rail system will be accomplished it will come from the private sector. Throwing money up in the air wrecks economies; Almost every quasi-private transportation authority in the united states is currenly studying this type project. It will be done when the technology comes on board making the great distances to be covered in the United States feasible. The taxpayers should not be forced to fund this magnitude of a project; the states could create tax incentives and then get out of the way of PRIVATE INDUSTRY. Our Federal Government is not the answer: individual creativity, self-interest, and profit (the incentive to take risk), is always the answer; it has been throughout time and it will not CHANGE, even if the Marxist's HOPE that this formula dies.

    11. Jules Gilpatrick, La says:

      Has anyone ever noticed that spewings like the one made by Neil Berry all follow a pattern? Lots of vitriol and name-calling but absolutely void of ANY factual or actionable information or even suggested solutions?

      Every comment section I get on is almost exactly the same as far as these poor people are concerned. It's as if calling someone an "idiot" is some sort of magic incantation that will instantly convert us to unbridled Liberalism. I often wonder about how these people live their daily lives. Poor things. What a terrible way to have to go through life.

    12. Vick , Gulfport says:

      April 17, 2009 Ron, Derry NH Comments are right on the mark! I wish i could have been so eloquent. "The Obama dream" is a nightmare for most producing people in the U.S.A. The only hope is that we awake from this drunken stupor that has rendered reality blind before it is terminal !! Vick

    13. George Fuller says:

      AMTRAK currently loses $239 for every passenger it carries……..I can only imagine how much more we could lose with more HSR passenger trains.

      These guys must sit around, smoke dope, drink champagne and think up the most bizarre crap to throw at teh public.

      George Fuller

    14. Metalchemist... Cali says:

      Once Again as usual the new regime's technocrats are using the latest distraction to feed the masses of fledglings via twitter, As you probably know they call their communique's TWEETS.

      I think it's so appropriate that the little birds are fed the latest regurgitations spewed forth from THE GREAT MISLEADER to the masses A.S.A.P.!

      As far as the "Right" loosing, They are JUST ADMITTING in a UNUSUALLY SELF DEFECATING way that they KNOW that the RIGHT IS CORRECT.

      True to form the GREAT UNIFYING LEADER has IN FACT caused a further divide between the masses that HE was supposedly going to UNITE. And as the masses unite and rise up against this TYRANNY, coincidentally BIG BROTHER'S LITTLE SIS (the one that heads the D.H.S.)releases a report that warns of (the Citizens getting fed up/restless) and labels them ALL AS A POSSIBLE THREAT TO THE NATION'S SECURITY. (On April 14th I believe.)

      {When you know that Big Brother has MINIONS that are watching your every keystroke. They have been for quite some time.}

      "RIGHT WING TERRORISTS" they were called. (but the word terrorist had been struck from use….Interesting…)

      When IN REALITY the TERRORISTS have turned out to be our GOVERNMENTAL OFFICIALS.

      After all WHO are THEY LISTENING TOO ???

      Time has a way of deciphering the TRUTH from HYPE & Misguidance

      from Governments, Good and, Corrupt Ones. Ones that bankrupt economies for dark seated goals.


    15. Connie W.V. says:

      Ron from NH. God Bless you!!

    16. Joseph Cottrell, Too says:

      "Neil Berry, Indianola, WA writes:

      Such a standard diatribe from the right! Don’t you ever get tired of being the idiots? Face it, the right lost and continues to lose public approval. The “loyal opposition” has sunk to the “seditious opposition” and is verging on the “traitorous opposition”. Were the roles reversed, we WOULD be in a police state."

      Someone please tell me what this silly tantrum has to do with (supposed) HSR or economics in general? Mr. Berry seems to believe that NO republicans at all were elected or re-elected in the last round. If the left won so handily, then why is it that Hairy Reed STILL does not have his 60-seat majority in the senate? He also needs to look up the definitions of "sedition" and "traitor." Not to mention perhaps a bit of U.S. history – I'm pretty sure the Alien and Sedition Acts were overturned quite a while ago.

      Typical insubstantial crybaby leftist ranting – the same stuff Pelosi and Read use to cram their leftist pabulum down our throats.

    17. Marshall Hill MI. says:

      The Plan is that we will not have Vehicles and will now depend on Big Brother!

    18. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      Obama is a big mistake that America has made. The tea parties need to be just the start of telling the "chosen one" that we will not stand for his stimulis plan that is sending this country down the tubes. WE NEED TO VOTE IN THE 2010 ELECTIONS AND HOPE WE CAN PUT SOME SOUND MINDS IN THE CONGRESS.

    19. Roy Cambridge MA USA says:

      My last two trips on AMTRAK New York City to Boston: (1) November 2008, the train "hit a cow" and it damaged the engine. Train arrived 105 minutes late. (2) April 2009 Engine failed at least ten times. Train left NYC 38 minutes late and arrived 2 hrs 25 minutes late. A woman traveler going to Portland ME had to spend the night in the bus station due to missed connections with no help from AMTRAK personnel. Government in action.

    20. HOUSTON says:



    21. Ross, Bradenton, Flo says:

      The first line in this report says it all. I wonder where Obama gets his mushrooms? Would Alice know?

    22. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      There is no common sence in DC. They all have gone off their rocker, and obama is at the head. How much longer are we going to put up with this crazy stuff?????

    23. TedN, St. Petersburg says:

      I recall reading some stats from CATO institute several months ago. High speed rails cannot be justified. There effect on reducing auto traffic is less than 5%, less energy efficient and a few other things that essentially make this a loosing proposition. If it is such a great or practical idea, industry will pursue the opportunity.

    24. abbyabagail says:

      Hey people,

      Nice to be here, hope to stay a long time and be a help to others

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