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THE PROBLEM WITH TRAINS: Does the USA Have Something to Learn From Europe?

Europe has a very sophisticated rail system. One can take a train almost anywhere, to almost any country. Granted, Europe is an older country than the United States, but train technology is as old for one country as another. Trains and the steam engine are have been around in some form since the turn of the 19th century.

This being the case, why can’t Amtrak seem to have a decent safety record? Another question, why can’t the United States have a reliable train network to travel into all of the states?

Amtrak once again derailed due to the reluctance of their powers-that-be to implement advanced technology necessary to avoid problems along the track that can cause a derailment.

Amtrak was created by Congress with the passing of the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970. It is a for- profit corporation that provides passenger train service for an additional cost to have priority of the railways. Prior to 1970, passenger trains were privately held and considered unprofitable.

From 1993 to 2003, Amtrak experienced 17 accidents that had both fatalities and injuries.

There have been many more since, and yet the decision to implement new technology is allowed an extension of time.

The state of public transportation in the United States is not as efficient as it should be. Some towns and states are covering the situation well, while others fall short.

All states have tourism, commerce and trade. The opportunity for an efficiently run train system seems limitless, and in view of the escalating cost of air travel, it seems an untapped financial cash cow, if properly run.

With the problem of city traffic growing annually, and the overdevelopment of most infrastructure in large cities, traveling by train seems to be a viable alternative.

Atlanta, Georgia is a prime example of the need for better mass transit. While the highways are gridlocked on a regular basis at any given time of the day, the Metro areas continue to build apartments and businesses on top of an infrastructure that was outdated long before the huge growth of the 80’s and 90’s. The MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) trains only run in certain areas of Metro Atlanta, then only for certain hours. The buses that are supposed to continue on from the hubs are not always efficient or timely.

The MARTA administrators have recently contracted a company to improve the rail system, but it will be a while before the changes can be felt in Joe Workaday’s schedule.

The United States needs and merits a train system that rivals Europe. With the example set across the pond, there is no excuse for this not being a priority for the candidates that would like to be president. Most likely, a team could be sent to the Euro Rail for consultation.

An efficient train system would provide jobs at all levels of development, and an increase in tourism and business travel to all areas of the country.


Share if you think train service in the USA could use some improvement.

Candace Hardin

Candace Hardin resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She is fluent in Spanish and a student of Latin and history. She is a columnist on and has a blog, Originally from North Carolina, her writing and beliefs have been heavily influenced by the Appalachian culture and tradition.

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