Are We There Yet?: Perspectives of a Pioneering Visionary

Are We There Yet?: Perspectives of a Pioneering Visionary

Dennis Hodges (Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5210-9.ch047
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This chapter addresses a vision of what was, is, and can be. Japan is already 65 years into its passenger rail improvements and modifications. France is just over 35 years and China is eight (8) years into its passenger rail improvements and modifications. Why cannot the United States see the economic and environmental reasons for doing the same in this country? This chapter discusses that and more. The author has attempted to parcel out the whys, what's and where's as to how the United States became so parochial when it comes to passenger rail transportation; why it is so reticent towards moving forward, and what can be done to change the current political and social attitude and climate.
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High Speed Rail Developments In Indiana

Having founded and organized the Indiana High Speed Rail Association in 1992, I brought attention to the possibility that high-speed rail needs to be considered for 21st century transportation in Indiana and the Midwest, and that it should be an integral part of the area’s transportation vision. If Europe can embrace, envision, and implement this system, why cannot we do the same in the United States?

Unfortunately, the new movement has encountered serious opposition from the highway lobbyists, which nearly ended our vision. Having regrouped in recent years, the new Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA) is determined to prove that the newer 21st century trains will not be a serious competition to highways or even airports. Rather, the trains are to be a part of a transportation system that includes and compliments all forms. Highways, especially around major urban areas are becoming more congested and airlines are looking to reduce, if not end, their short haul (commuter) flights. For example commuting from Indianapolis to Chicago, via highway and air, could take up to four hours. A high-speed train, traveling at 125 MPH or more, can get the traveler there in under three hours.

During their time on the train, the travelers can do office work, prepare for an appointment, read a book or magazine, have refreshment or simply relax in comfortable seats – all while traveling safely and enjoying the speed that gets them to where they want to be on time.

So, why cannot the appropriate commerce and government leaders see the benefits? There are several reasons. First, travelers have become very comfortable in their cars, even though they could come up to a traffic jam or backup to delay their drive time considerably. Also, more comfortable traveling by air may be another reason even though the necessary security measures are costing them much time and money.

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