Country should pursue expanded train travel

Growing up in the 1950s, it was not unusual to meet someone who had never flown in an airplane. Now, it seems just about everyone age 10 and older has flown. Yet sadly, a large number of people have never had the joy of riding a train, especially over a long distance. Yes, I am writing this on the heels of a very tragic, yet unusual accident in the Bronx, but even so, ridership is way up, compared to recent years. Is it any wonder, since we now hear much negativity about texting and driving and what a hassle it is to fly?

Aside from train travel being less stressful and more educational, it can also be a social item, as people meet others on board a train they might never have met. I know, for I have been a member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers since 1971, and have ridden all over North America on trains.

The union of railroads brought this great country together, and many cities and towns in our vast land still depend on long rail runs to have access to other places and loved ones. When an old run is discontinued, it is a major blow to such communities. I have seen it first-hand. In 1969, I had the fortune of riding the last return run of the Humming Bird, a train that ran from Cincinnati to New Orleans and back. It was dark, yet people in every town lined the platforms of the depots and cried real tears as they said goodbye to what generations had grown up with. It was a sad night I will never forget.

So, let us take a step back and re-examine this issue. Let’s follow the examples of what other large nations have done and make this green mode of wonderful transportation work for America once more.

Michael K. Tremper