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Letter: Abandoning rail in N.H. was a big mistake

New Hampshire has spent a half a century neglecting what was once a great rail network. Instead we have poured billions into a road system we strain to keep updated.

You can drive from Concord to Lebanon or Littleton on a four-lane highway and not pay a penny – and the cost to maintain those roads is paid by taxpayers. We invest billions in expanding Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester, but the road on either end remains the same, meaning the morning commute into Boston will see more cars dumped into an inadequate roadway, and Friday tourist traffic will be even more bogged down in Concord. Meanwhile, across the border in Maine, the Downeaster, with public support, has been successfully expanded to Brunswick. After a decade of Downeaster service, Portland’s downtown has four major new hotels, as the weekend trip from Boston to Portland is easy – bypassing the traffic and tolls on Interstate 95.

Tourism is our second biggest industry, and rail service would make Manchester and Concord a little over an hour away from North Station, bringing tourism, business, and commuters.

With gas flirting with $4 a gallon, shifting from cars to rail makes sense: Cars equal nearly three-quarters of U.S. oil consumption. Moving passengers from cars to trains can relieve highway congestion and slash the amount of oil we consume.

Abandoning rail in New Hampshire was a mistake. As fuel prices soar, we need to keep transportation affordable. We need to find a balance of rail, roads, and other new ideas. Rail is cost-effective, energy-efficient, and we can no longer look at it as a political issue, but one that is crucial to the economy of Concord, New Hampshire and New England.



Legacy Comments5

I can imagine it now - train loads of tourist coming from Boston to Concord for the weekend. Can anyone imagine a weekend trip to Concord??? Then what, rent a car to go somewhere else because your car is 50 miles away at home ....... Rail is cost-effective - can anyone name just one passenger rail that merely breaks even and that is after tax payers spend hundreds of $Millions to build it. If there is so much support then why is a private enterprise not building it and making a fortune.

I forgot - they could all bring their bikes and ride up and down Main St. between the stop lights.

"Moving passengers from cars to trains can relieve highway congestion and slash the amount of oil we consume". Sounds like we are herding cattle. Amtrak is losing money, it has never been profitable and never will. Gas is $4.00 per gallon because of Obama failed energy policies, enviromental whacko extremists and failure on the part of the last 4 administrations to strive to become energy independent. Rail is ultra-political. For one, I am tired of liberals, progressives or whatever you call yourselves preaching like an evangelist about your principles and beliefs and how everyone should eat, drink and live. Sorry, choo choo trains are a waste.

I suggest you check out the spreadsheet on Amtrak. Amtrak has not made a profit in 40 years. Last year Amtrak lost 1 billion and Congress gave them 1.4 billion. Now we hear that Amtrak has lost 8 million on their food service alone over the last ten years. Due to waste and stealing of food by the employees. It cost more to take Amtrak than is does to fly in some instances. Amtrak is a huge failure.

The cost of one space shuttle mission is roughly what it costs to support Amtrak each year. Better rail service on the northeast corridor would be the civilized way to travel; and an alternative to flying or driving in order to go west is long overdue. Where is it written that rail must make a profit? Factor in the hidden subsidies to any form of transportation, and the profit is privatized, while the losses are hidden, subsidized and borne by the public. An efficient and well-run train system should be regarded as a public good worth maintaining in order to travel efficiently and easily from place to place. Our misguided transportation policies and misplaced support for air travel have brought us to the present situation. We have no travel options that aren't ordeals during peak travel times and that don't turn into a crap-shoot at the first hint of bad weather anywhere in the country.

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