United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was recently in New Hampshire. “And we’re on track to create and save a total of at least 3.5 million jobs by next fall.” he said. The article which this is quoted from appears in Laconia Citizen also included some statements about high-speed rail in New Hampshire.
“David Danielson, a Commissioner with the Southern NH Regional Planning Commission made a pitch for rail in the Northeast, saying most of the money appeared to be going elsewhere in the country.” “You have the opportunity to make a poster child out of the Northeast.”, Danielson said.
I think all of this is pure fiction. This also reminded me of a press conference at least a year ago when the President announced his intentions and policy concerning the development of high-speed rail in the United States. The press conference was in Spain and he discussed the Spanish high-speed rail system and what this could mean for areas like the environment and economic development. President Obama never mentioned the high-speed rail systems in France and Germany, the most successful high-speed rail systems on the European continent, if not the world. Not even mentioned.
The same politics and reasons why I think New Hampshire will never have a high-speed rail system like what exists in Europe or anywhere. The idea of high-speed rail is a great forum for Secretary LaHood, Commissioner Danielson and former Senator Peter Burling to talk to the press. But beyond the words there is no substance and I mean no substance. And I think the reasons are simple. There isn't enough public support in New Hampshire for high-speed rail, it’s very expensive to implement and there is no analytical evidence available to show how these trains would even be used regardless of how good of an idea it is.
In the 1990s I spent some time on the high-speed rail systems in Europe mainly in Germany on both the French TGV and the German ICE. As a part of this adventure I was in the Hauptbahnof in Munchen and heard of the proposal to expand high-speed rail from this city to Budapest, Hungary. This is a good idea, the improvement of transportation between member EU countries and commensurate with existing rail networks and policy. It is my understanding that although this substantial project was started, the work on the infrastructure has not been completed especially on the heavyweight welded rail section from Austria to Hungary. And the reason is cost.
So how can the situation be any different here in New Hampshire? I don’t think it can. Secretary Lahood, Messrs. Danielson and Burling all have something to say but they never talk about cost. Maybe the answer to this question is buried under the 3.5 million jobs that have been created along with a good pile of fiction and fluff.