The observation of Dr. Javeed Nayeem in his article ‘Keeping our trains safe and slow!’ (Star of Mysore dated Sept.8) that people in the US are proud of the slow moving trains as it is the most enjoyable travelling experience they can boast of, calls for comment.
After the end of II World War, highway construction was undertaken in USA on a big scale during the Eisenhower era and people switched over to the automobiles as it became economical. Or, in the alternative they preferred air travel as plane fares became affordable after deregulation in 1970s.
Twenty thousand locomotives that had puffed from coast to coast in the 1930s had fallen to three hundred by 1960s. There were no takers for running the loss making train services. Government had to step in and formed ‘Amtrak’ to run passenger service, while profit making freight trains were left in private hands. Without getting funds from the Government, there was no way the trains could be run faster competing with the trains in Europe and UK.
When the track between Boston and Washington D.C. was upgraded and electrified, the trains started moving at higher speeds and they became popular with the travelling public.
It is alright to enjoy the passing scenery while travelling. This can also be done by travelling in short distance trains during the day. Long distance travel involves night journeys and people prefer faster trains so that they could reach their destinations earlier. It goes without saying that safety measures need to be put in place before embarking on high speeds.
– M.K.Subba Rao, Malleswaram, 18.9.2017
[Note: The facts and statistical information mentioned above have been culled out from the book “Asphalt Nation, How the Automobile took over and how we can take it back” by Jane Holtz Kay, University of California Press,1997].
You can also mail us your views, opinions, and stories to [email protected]