Trains, Cars and Planes

I have always had a fascination with trains, especially the steam locomotives. When I was seven, I had an electric train set, though it modeled a diesel. Don’t get me wrong. I love that train. My friends and I had a lot of fun with that train. In fact, from time to time we would combine train sets into a much larger set. The problem was that every time I was done with it, I had to put it up. It meant the next time I wanted to play trains, I had to put it all together.

A neighbor down the way had a train set in his garage. The table it was on could be raised and lowered. It made it far more convenient. More than that, his train only had two rails like the real ones. Mine had three. Besides, his had switch tracks. It didn’t have to go over the same tracks time and again.

Thinking back over it, I sometimes think I should have made my living with trains. I know it is hard work but you know, if it is what you like, it isn’t work.

When I was six, I rode on a train, from Ft Smith to Kansas City to Los Angeles. Then, after a few hours in Los Angeles, we went up to San Francisco. A person can’t do that anymore. Ft. Smith Arkansas no longer has passenger service. However, they do have an airport. From that little airport a person can go most anywhere in the world. Interstate 40 goes just north of Ft Smith. For those with automobiles, a person can go all over the US on the best interstate system in the world.

I guess, if a person from Ft. Smith wants to go on a train, he would likely have to go to Memphis or maybe Oklahoma. I went to a ten week school in Philadelphia and I dove my car. My wife got a friend to watch the kids a few days and we figured she could come up a few days before the school was over and drive back with me.

My first thought was that she could catch a train and save a dollar or two. So I checked. It was about 200 dollars more by train than my plane. So she went by plane. I looked at going on the train to St. Louis for a Cardinal game. Was that An eye opener. We drove.

It used to be that when you couldn’t afford to fly, you took took a train. It would appear now the plane is less, or the car.

I was over in Japan back in 1975 and they had a good inexpensive train system. I rode on them a number of times. I understand the passenger trains are having problems there now.

I absolutely love trains, but it would appear they are a vanishing breed. People keep trying to bring them back. They talk about high speed trains. They talk about light rail. No matter how you look at it they are far more expensive than any other form of transportation and I hate that.

When the railroads first started, they had an enormous advantage. The government provided huge rights-of-way and all sorts of government assistance. It appears their golden age was from about 1850 to 1960 was. However, with the assistance of the California government, they tried a simple high speed train, which was to go more or less from the southern part of the state to the northern part. It failed miserably before the first train ran down the track. Actually, they never finished the track and likely never will. They spent more for the rail than for the entire Transcontinental Railroad. All that tax money and now there is nothing. It is time to give it up. Those of us who hardly ride on a train should not have to pay for those that do.

Nowadays, the trains simply cannot support themselves. Year after year, the tax dollars are poured into the trains systems and they always come up with losses at the end of the year. Amtrak is more of a failure than the post office and I hate that.

If it is the desire of some private firm wants to build a train, fine. I have no problem with it. As I said, I like trains. However, if they plan on doing it, please don’t use the taxpayer to fund another grand failure.

As a side note, I would suspect that the train in California would have come closer to succeeding if they did not waste so much money. It is the problem when the government gets involved in things. For sure some of that money that went toward that train likely ended up in the pockets of some politicians. Government is a beast and it is the nature of the beast.

I like to watch trains and I like to ride on trains. It seems to be such a wonderful efficient means of transportation. Experience proves it wrong. Cars are about the same speed as trains are far less expensive. Worse, the only way you can change the route of the train is to change the tracks. That is very expensive.

I suppose there are some places the trains are holding on. Many people still ride them on the east coast. There is still the famous City of New Orleans that goes between the city of its name and Chicago. I don’t live far from the tracks uses. I have had to stop to let it go by. But considering the price of a ticket, I would suspect it won’t be running much longer.

Indeed, the day is quickly approaching when the only trains you will see are freight trains and the type we put on the floor and play with.

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