It will if President Bush has his way. He wants to cut 40% from Amtrak’s budget…and they are barely making due as it is now. When we took our Amtrak trip in December, I spoke to both of our car attendants and they each mentioned the fact that Amtrak has no money and they have been slowly cutting a lot of service. If Bush’s budget goes through as is (which won’t happen, and although unlikely, Amtrak’s budget could stay in), we can expect to see Amtrak either seriously cut back and/or stop service altogether on some lines. While every other major country on earth is investing heavily in high-speed rail travel due to emissions from flying and the cost of fuel, the United States acts as though it wants to cut train travel out entirely and only subsidize air travel.
Around the world, high speed rail is the happening thing. In Europe 6,000 kilometers (3700 miles) of high-speed lines are due to be built by 2020, tripling the length of the existing high-speed network. China is expected to build 3,000 kilometers (almost 1900 miles) of high-speed railways within 15 years. Argentina has recently announced plans to build a 710 kilometer-long (440 mile) line from Buenos Aires to Cordoba , the first high-speed line in Latin America. Morocco is considering high speed rail also powered in part by renewable energy – solar. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Portugal, Russia and Sweden are all considering high speed rail. At least fourteen other countries already have it.
And according to Bush’s new 2009 federal budget:
Airlines, which are public companies, are going to get over $1 billion in subsidies through the FAA.
Amtrak, which is a government private “company”, is going to only get an $800 million budget.
How about we switch those around and spend money where it is needed most, George? Pretty soon the U.S. is going to look like we have the trains of the Wild West compared to the rest of the world!
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