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D. P. Lubic

Here is some material you may be interested in; in some ways it is an expansion of what you've been speaking of into past centuries:

Some commentary on this:

None of this looks like an easy future, and none of this looks like something I will be able to have a positive influence in, other than at the smallest, personal scale--and that's too small to be worth much.

D. P. Lubic

At best it is still going to be a struggle. The high-speed effort in California is bedeviled by opposition and problems (some self-inflicted by the authority charged with building the railroad, with persistent charges of institutional corruption by the firm that has the initial contract). There are bicycle trail groups that have former rail beds that are extremely reluctant to give them up for their return to rail service, and in fact there are at least three examples in New York state alone where the bike and trail people want to tear up existing and at least partially operational railroads to put in a bike path. The freight railroads that own the vast, vast majority of rail mileage in this country are not enthusiastic about passenger rail because they still don't see a profit in it (and are likely right), especially given that the highway system is still heavily subsidized, and that subsidy shows no signs of going away short of total bankruptcy not only of itself but of the federal and all state governments that support it (and if that happens, there's no money available to invest in rail in at any government level).

Maybe these are all just the signs of the transition you describe, but they, and the other things you write about, suggest a long, hard struggle, possibly running for decades before things actually get better--and there's a chance that this will not work out for the best, and this country will sink. I fear I will not see this resolved in my lifetime (I'm 58), or that I will not see it resolved in the way you and I would like to see it. I certainly have little if any chance of being an influence in this, the more likely odds being no chance at all.

Some newspaper stories on one of the New York roads, starting with a search index from a paper covering this, with a sampling of some of the material on the subject:

Story from the same paper on one of the other roads threatened with being ripped up for a snowmobile trail. Of particular note is that in this photo, right in front of the guy who wants to see this railroad disappear, are three new ties, suggesting the volunteer force that leases this line has been working on it. In fact, I understand the track in the photo is not usable by passenger trains, but is usable--and used--by the railroad to move its equipment between operational sections of the line (it runs on two segments, with a section in the middle that is listed as "out of service," but good enough for freight only or those equipment moves to and from the line's maintenance base).

Are you still optimistic, and if so, why?

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