The Economist has an interesting article on why America’s system of rail freight is the best in the world (hint: deregulation had something to do with it), and how the president’s effort to repurpose it for high-speed passenger trains could ruin it.
In America, we use rail for freight and highways for passengers. In Europe, rail is used for passengers, and highways for freight. America’s system is the more sensible one: humans prefer to travel on their own schedule, and to do so quickly. In contrast, freight usually doesn’t care; the most important factor is cost. Keeping freight transportation cheap reduces the cost of nearly everything. Alas, freight trains don’t look cool.
How much are Americans willing to spend in increased costs for nearly everything, just in order to have cool-looking high-speed passenger trains? We may find out.