Let’s take a ride. We’ll travel 328 miles, about the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco. By car, it’d take roughly six hours, depending on traffic, but we can make it in about two-and-a-half hours, traveling in comfort all the way. In addition, we’ll avoid the long security lines, frequent delays and cancellations, and other hassles of air travel.
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This is not a jet plane, nor some sort of futuristic travel pod. It’s a train. Specifically, it’s the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) presently running in Spain between Barcelona and Madrid. “Since the day this train opened,” says a man who takes it twice a week, “I have never, never set foot on a plane again. Why would anyone fly?”
Good question. For the same price as an airplane ticket, the AVE zips you along at speeds up to nearly 200 miles per hour. You enjoy comfortable assigned seats, computer outlets, movies, and – get this– good food! Just two years ago, nearly everyone traveling between these two cities flew, but today train travelers already outnumber those on airplanes.
AVE trains will also take you to six other Spanish cities, and all lines are profitable. Plus, rail infrastructure is far less costly than airport systems, and trains are more energy efficient and less polluting than their winged rivals.
Why can’t we have a train system like this in our US of A? We could – but we have to invest in it. President Obama has set aside $8 billion for high speed rail, but this will provide only a few lines scattered in a handful of states. Meanwhile, Spain (a country smaller than Texas) is putting another $80 billion into its rail system during the next ten years.
We can’t get on board the rail revolution until we build it. To push for a real national train system, contact American Public Transportation Association: www.apta.com.