Building Rail for the 20th Century

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryHere is some news almost nobody in America will hear about what is happening in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian government is building two high speed train railway lines. One line will connect the capital Tehran with Isfahan, and the other line will connect Tehran with Mashhad. There will also be a high speed rail line that will connect to Imam Khomeini Airport. Russia is now building high speed railway networks all through the country. There is now a high speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and one from Moscow to Nizhni Novgorod. The Russian government intends to create a high speed line from Moscow to Sochi on the border with Abkhazia, and one going to Kaliningrad. In addition, the Russian government is in negotiations now with Japan over building a high speed railway route for the Transsiberian route. Interestingly enough, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are also considering creating high speed railway networks in their countries. At this point these countries are in the planning stage for building high speed railways and not actually doing it now.

And as for America…..This country seems to be going nowhere in this regards. All high speed trains pretty much remain in what is called the U.S. northeast corridor. The U.S. government has not allocated money for high speed trains for the rest of the country. And the federal government has certainly not allocated funding for updating and replacing the railway infrastructure for Illinois and Chicago in particular. Despite all of this, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has been able to find $3 billion to try and fix the decaying infrastructure as best he can. Many of the rail tracks, bridges, and crossing gates were constructed in the late 19th Century and the middle 20th Century. A lot of this has not been updated over the decades, and because of severe budget cuts by the state and federal governments (and all the wars we have been fighting), our rail bridges, rail tracks and crossing gates are beginning to fall apart. What Mayor Emmanuel is doing is trying to repair and replace what is going to pieces.

This way, he and other suburban town mayors are trying to keep America’s rail stock moving. This is simply trying to repair a system that still operates, but is wholly inadequate to the task of bringing America into the 21st Century. These state leaders are trying to keep their part of America’s railroad system going, and bless them for it! And their part of this is extremely important to put it mildly. Illinois and especially Chicago is the key railway link from the east coast to the west coast of the United States. Chicago is the headquarters of the central part of the country’s railway system. In order for America to have high speed rail, Chicago must be one of the main operation headquarters for it. At this point Washington, D.C. does not seem to be interested in doing this, and so Chicago and so many other cities must try to fix a railroad system that is more suited to the 20th Century than the 21st.

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