Hi, and Daimajin, thanks for the welcome! I was just in Paris a few weeks ago, and I wanted to share a couple of photos of what it looks like when government investment in transportation is more sane – when there’s more than one technology getting dollars, instead of a monopoly. This first shot is one of the trains that runs east from Paris – the TGV Est line that opened this June. This train took me to Strasbourg (nonstop) at a maximum speed of 320kph – or 200mph, the fastest passenger rail service in the world right now. Interestingly, it would have taken more time to fly, because the train station is in the city, and the airport would have required local transportation on both ends.This second shot is of the German ICE train – also high speed, also operating from Paris, this train likely went to either Frankfurt or Munich. This particular service also just started running in the last couple of months (although both of these train designs are a few years old):
What’s crazy, to me, is that the common arguments against this kind of investment don’t hold up under pressure. We don’t have the density? That’s not true – except for Paris itself, the TGV Est serves cities smaller than Seattle, Portland or Vancouver BC, in a similarly sized corridor, with nonstop service. We don’t have the money? Also untrue, we spend vastly more on our roads in this region than we would need to for this kind of rail service – and it isn’t subject to congestion like our highways.
I’m not suggesting we should stop spending on roads entirely – but I do want to point out that the largest highways in France are generally six lane. They don’t have to spend the billions we do on highway infrastructure that doesn’t really scale up – a 14 lane highway doesn’t move people any faster than a 6 lane highway, and they know that. The best way to move more people is to make sure they have more options, to split transportation investment rather than just letting our highway costs snowball ever higher. That’s what Roads and Transit starts to do this year – build us infrastructure that doesn’t cost more and more to expand over time, and that lasts instead of needing constant upgrades and replacement. That’s what the rest of the world has done, and they’re not seeing messes like our SR-99 and SR-520 now. The best time to stop making future messes for ourselves is now – and building a comprehensive rail system is the best way to avoid the problems that come with only having one transportation option.