Where I grew up, some relatives could be reached only by train, so I've had a lifelong fondness for that mode of travel. And during my time in northwest Indiana, I enjoyed the idea of having the South Shore available. How cool is it to have an electric interurban still around in this day and age? It was so easy to ride the train to the Randolph Street Station to take in downtown Chicago instead of driving through all that maddening traffic. I noted with interest the new double-decker cars the South Shore has added to the fleet, though perhaps in reality they won't be as much fun as I imagine them to be:
"You can't beat a view like this," said Hackett, waving sarcastically at a portion of Northwest Indiana's less attractive stretches of industrial land. "It's almost like being in a new automobile -- you can smell it."
Ah, yes, that new train smell, although old-train smell isn't that bad.
In case you're interested, there'll be a rally Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Baker Street Railroad Station to drum up support for high-speed rail. President Obama's stimulus package includes $8 billion for that service, and of the nine states in the Midwest, Indiana is the only one not to apply for any of the funding. High-speed rail is a long shot, I think -- it would be extremely expensive and take a very long time, not to mention the fact that rail is for collective travel and Americans' much prefer individual travel. But it's an interesting and praiseworthy effort nonetheless. High-speed rail could drastically improve the economy of the Midwest.
And before you start screaming about a libertarian seeming to endorse federal subsidies for railroads, I know, I know. But the government subsidizes all sorts of transportation in all sorts of ways, from highway funding to support for airports. Unless we're going to talk about an end to all federal transportation spending (which would be an interesting debate as well), there should at least be a discussion about which mode gets how much and why.