Ain’t got time to take a fast train

One of the people I worked with on last year’s campaign was a veteran politico who frequently complained about my former newspaper, saying it had become a “North Carolina paper.”

At first I wasn’t sure what she meant. But since then, while I don’t fully agree with that characterization, I do see what causes her to say that.

I thought of that this morning when I saw the story about the proposed high-speed train between between Charlotte and Atlanta. I sort of felt, “Why am I reading this?” I mean, it’s about something that will pass through a corner of South Carolina that is far from where I live.

Not that I mind stories about trains. As y’all know, I love public transportation, particularly of the rail type — although my true preference is for subways, with New York’s and London’s being my faves.

In fact, today Cindi Scoppe sent me the AP version of that story, wanting to make sure I didn’t miss it.

She may have been disappointed by my reaction:

Thanks, although I grow tired of hearing about trains that I will never ride. A route from Charlotte to Atlanta? What good does that do me? It’s perpendicular to anyplace I might want or need to go…

I want a train — fast, slow or in-between — that will take me from where I am to where I want to be. Preferably underground. Nothing of the kind seems on the horizon, though…

Ahhh, the Tube!

Ahhh, the Tube!

14 thoughts on “Ain’t got time to take a fast train

  1. David T

    Better be a raised rail otherwise there’s going to be some nasty accidents between people, animals, vehicles, etc. vs. train.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Just realized I chose a confusing figure of speech: “Preferably underground. Nothing of the kind seems on the horizon, though…”

    Well, it WOULDN’T be on the horizon, would it, if it were underground?…

  3. Doug T

    The Box Tops. “The Letter” is 1:52 long which is longer than the shortest Number 1 song “Stay” at 1:38. Maurice Williams was born in Lancaster.

    Brad, great Biden in Florence this past Saturday. Many pundits are writing his political obit already but I don’t see it.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    My Hi-Fidelity Style…Top Five Songs About Trains:

    1. Midnight Train to Georgia
    2. Folsom Prison Blues
    3. Wabash Cannonball
    4. Last Train to Clarksville
    5. Runaway Train

    1. Norm Ivey

      There’s a line in Folsom Prison Blues that always bugged me.

      But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone

      I couldn’t wrap my head around why a train near Folsom Prison (near Sacramento) would be heading for San Antonio, Texas. Then, while we were vacationing in and around Sacramento a couple of years ago I noticed a small town just north of San Francisco also named San Antonio. Now that I know that, I have a better understanding of the speaker and why he was in Reno.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        That was such a strange, yet excellent, album. My favorite track is “Wind Up.”

        Bits of it are problematic for some audiences, of course.

        Remember the scene from “30 Rock” when Jack and Pete get together in Jack’s office to drink beer and sing to the accompaniment of Pete’s guitar?

        Jack suggests they sing “Aqualung,” and once Pete gives him the intro, he launches into it:

        Sitting on a park bench
        I don’t know the words except ‘park bench’…

        Singing the actual second line (for anyone who doesn’t know, that’s “Eying little girls with bad intent”) would have been a comedy-killer. Boomers might not even notice it, but others would go, “What the…?” Even for a boomer like me, it’s jarringly different hearing it as a punk kid and hearing it 40 years later as a father and grandfather of little girls.

        So the writers dealt with that rather deftly…

  5. Norm Ivey

    Trains give you the freedom of moving about while traveling, and they are one of the most efficient forms of transportation. I love a good train, and I like this concept, but I don’t see it happening. Not in the next couple of decades, anyway.

    The lowest-cost option doesn’t gain you any time at all over driving. You can take an Amtrak now, and it only adds 30 minutes or so to the drive. It’s a midnight train to Georgia, and round-trip is less than $150. It runs once a day, so there’s not a lot of demand for that route.

    We’d be better served to improve the reliability of and increase the confidence in self-driving cars. Computers communicating with one another and responding in milliseconds to a change in the traffic would reduce driving time while making it safer. And once most of the vehicles on the road are hybrids or full electric, then the rail doesn’t even have that characteristic as an advantage. For the high-speed routes, I just don’t see the tickets being significantly cheaper than a flight.

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