Unfortunately, Amtrak has cancelled the Starlight till at least Feb.15th, because of a mudslide on the Union Pacific tracks south of Eugene.
Therefore, I am cancelling my trip. Walking with as light a footprint on the earth as possible is one of my primary goals, and the practice that we sell knickers and write articles to support. Flying causes over twice the carbon emissions per passenger/mile than even Amtrak's diesel trains, considerably more than even driving, so I'm going to walk my talk and stay home.
Will be very sorry to miss seeing all my Portland pals, but maybe in summer, if sales hold up, Gina and I will take the Starlight up and just visit all our cycling pals there for a week or so.
It's pathetic that in this country Amtrak has to be the stepchild of the freight lines rather than owning its own tracks--this would never happen in Northern Europe or Japan. Considering the incredible savings not only in energy cost but in spatial presence trains have over both road vehicles and aircraft, we are fools not to throw billions at Amtrak instead of carping over its paltry $500 million endowment. (Highway users get $60 billion in Federal subsidy; airlines $30 billion.)
- A two-track heavy rail line (such as a subway running at typical headways) has the passenger capacity of around 35 traffic lanes.
- Shinjuku, a rail/metro hub in Tokyo, logs 4,000,000 boardings per day, as opposed to LAX's 165,000. Shinjuku takes up about a city block and is surrounded by residences and business; LAX takes up 3,500 acres, and depresses property values for miles around it.
- Property values in every US city that has metro rail service go up around rail stations; values go down around freeway interchanges. Each affects a city's tax receipts accordingly.
- Freight trains are three to four times more fuel-efficient than trucks for moving the equivalent tonnage of goods or commodities, and use up vastly less land surface to do so.
- Even medium-speed passenger trains can replace all air travel for runs of up 500 to 700 miles, especially as they drop you off in the center of town rather than at a bleak airport on the outskirts; bullet trains (a mature technology now well over forty years old) can do so over much longer distances.
Think about that, along with everything else, when you vote next time. And every time.