In a guest opinion piece published in Progressive Railroading this month, Magellan Associates LLC President and CEO Robert Perrin makes the case for more passenger rail in the United States. A frequent business traveler, Perrin believes he could save valuable time if more short- to medium-haul rail service was available for passengers traveling between major metro areas. Business travelers would rejoice if they could conveniently hop on a train to get from Chicago to Cincinnati, for example, rather than drive the five hours in a rental car or spend at least that much time on a flight once security and other airport issues are factored in, Perrin says. For his recent Chicago-Cincinnati trip, Perrin explored his options on Amtrak, but found that nation's intercity passenger railroad offered service to Cincinnati three days a week — and at inconvenient times."As a business traveler, I fly an average of 100,000 miles annually, 40 percent of which is short-haul flights of less than 500 miles," Perrin writes. "Those short-haul trips would be an ideal distance for train travel. But rail options are limited. So, like many business travelers, I fly out of necessity. The airlines know that they have a captive audience. They can increase fares, reduce service and capacity, and still be fairly sure that business travelers will continue to book the same number of flights." That's where he would like to see Amtrak and private-rail carriers step up to the track and offer more options to business travelers."Having traveled to other countries where passenger rail service is the primary mode of transportation, I’m left wondering, why not here?" Perrin says in his column. "The convenience, reliability, comforts and even comparable transit times on short distances are very attractive to the business traveler. That’s why I always try to use Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service when traveling on the East Coast. When is the rest of the country going to get on board?"
That's a good question. When will the rest of the U.S. get on board? There are a few private-sector efforts to build passenger rail between regional cities: Texas Central Railway's proposed high-speed service between Dallas and Houston comes to mind, as does All Aboard Florida's construction (now underway) of the Orlando-to-Miami route. But, will other private-sector (or public) entities try to follow their leads?
What do you think? Is there a business-traveler rail market out there, as Perrin suggests? Please share your thoughts. I'd like to know what you think.
In reply to anmccaff:
In reply to Railroader14:
"Desperate" is a big word, and should only be used for stuff like fevers over 106, sucking chest wounds, and fatal epidemics. The problem here is that we have a disparate need for intercity travel, with parts of the country having major destinations close enough that rail makes good economic sense, and larger areas where it does not.
On your other point, I don't think we should be casually reordering property rights for anyone's convenience, certainly not for a vaguely defined "Public."