I applaud the March 3 op-ed "Transportation needs a boost in Columbus," by Eric Davies. I am over 80 and a longtime rail fan. I have loved trains and steam engines since I was a kid.
I applaud the March 3 op-ed “Transportation needs a boost in Columbus,” by Eric Davies. I am over 80 and a longtime rail fan. I have loved trains and steam engines since I was a kid.
Looking back, after all, affords us the opportunity not only to identify and rectify our mistakes but also to recognize what we have done right, making it possible for us to plan for the future on a reasoned basis.
We Americans have a bad habit of trashing some of our greatest assets in the name of progress. A prime example: our passenger train services, which performed so well in the 19th century and into the 1950s.
At the end of World War II, there were more than 100 arrivals and departures at Columbus’ old Union Station (now gone).Things went rapidly downhill from there. The last regularly scheduled train to visit Columbus was Amtrak’s National Limited in 1979.
As Davies points out, the Columbus metropolitan area is one of the largest (or the largest) in the country to be without intercity rail service. This strikes me as a symptom of regression rather than as a sign of progress.
Davies also made clear that, in this respect, other, perhaps more enlightened, cities have developed efficient transportation systems based at least in part on both intracity and intercity rail service.
No doubt economists, accountants and developers can muster a number of legitimate arguments against restoring intercity rail passenger service to anything like what is was in the mid-20th century, something that few expect or argue for. But surely a city of the size and supposed sophistication of Columbus deserves a very careful look at possible restoration of such service to some currently reasonable level.
Auto travel no longer is an unalloyed joy, if it ever was. Neither is being cooped up, knees-to-chest, in an airliner stalled on a runway. Travel by rail offers a worthy option, even for business travelers.
JOHN A. CARNAHAN