Looking back on the harsh conditions around July 4th in Washington D.C. this year, it all seems a bit ironic.
The Fourth of July, a day that is meant to represent the continual preservation of our freedom, was met with bad thunderstorms, bad traffic and a widespread blackout, leaving millions sweltering in overwhelming heat. At least 26 people died in the storm or the aftermath that caused the blackout.
These conditions dampened the spirits of potential revelers, causing them to give up their plans to celebrate, thus, indirectly restraining their independence. Even Fast Trains author Emy, canceled her plans to celebrate in D.C. because she wanted to avoid the 90-100 degree weather.
There are current conditions in our nation that are prohibiting our freedom to travel with ease whenever we desire. Temperatures are ever increasing and causing us to evaluate how we use energy and how we can combat climate change. It is a vicious cycle in transportation, and it needs to stop.
I think it is interesting to contrast these conditions to the possibilities of high-speed rail. A fully functioning HSR system would take a considerable number of cars traveling from city to city off the roads, decreasing gas emissions and traffic congestion.
The irony of the Fourth of July in Washington D.C. this year serves as a strange foreboding omen to me of what is to come if we do not stop the cycle of harmful transportation practices and push towards sustainability. How are we to celebrate independence in blacked-out neighborhoods, 100+ degree heat and congested high-ways?
High-speed rail in this case wouldn’t just make travel more convenient. On a deep level, it exists to preserve our freedom and foster the great innovation in America to keep moving forward and moving faster. In order to celebrate and continue our independence, we have to depend on accessible and renewable energy sources that are reliable forever. Only then can we truly celebrate Independence Day.
Overcrowded highways and post-9/11 air travel woes have become an expected norm in transportation.
We often spend more time in the security and check-in lines at the airport than we do on the actual plane. What American stuck in a five-lane traffic jam on the I-5 with the kids shouting, “Are we there yet?!” has not thought to herself: “There must be a better way.”
As part of an hour-long interview on Marilyn Shannon’s “Breaking Free” show, Nancy and Emy discuss high-speed rail’s potential to change the traveler’s experience to a pleasant and enjoyable one
“We have come to accept really being uncomfortable and stressed by our travel,” said Nancy, “[High-speed rail] is such a humane, civilized way of traveling, and it comes out in the book.”
Emy and Nancy’s book, Fast Trains: America’s High-Speed Future, focuses on the importance of the traveler’s experience. “[The book] helps you understand how it is to experience all these different types of high-speed rail across the world,” Emy remarked. Through compelling testimonies of families traveling on HSR in countries like Japan, the lifestyle benefits come alive for the readers.
“We did it in such a way that we didn’t want to be negative about our current conditions, but they can be so much better,” said Nancy on comparing high-speed rail to other forms of travel.
It’s something to get excited about, not just because of the environmental or economic benefits, but because of the potential to improve the overall experience of travel. High-speed rail can bear our travel burdens and change the way Americans think of transportation.
Nancy described it best in a few sentences: “The good things about the train are not going to change. There will be the ability to get up and walk to a place and have something to eat. Your kids can run to the bathroom when they need to. There are really wonderful things about trains now. It’s just the addition of this incredible speed and the convenience of it.”
-Rachel Lewis, guest blogger
Trains are a crucial part of American history and are tied to decades of technological and industrial progression. In the book, Fast Trains: America’s High Speed Future, the authors Emy Louie and Nancy Bolts say it is as American as baseball or apple pie.
Co-author Bolts, part of a family deeply rooted in the train industry, describes her feelings and experience with trains as pleasurable. “I have a lot of good memories and association with train travel, and I enjoy it,” said Bolts in an interview on Marilyn Shannon’s show, "Breaking Free” Even the English vocabulary is teeming with train related phrases and words such as “caboose,” “on track” and “all aboard.”
However, Louie and Bolts stress that the association with trains shouldn’t stop at the feelings of nostalgia. “I feel rather terrible that trains nowadays are seen as something nostalgic…when point in fact is we can also look forward,” said Louie.
It is not the end in the great tale of trains.
Emy and Nancy proclaim in their book that there is still much to expect from these once revolutionary and inspiring machines. They provided a new way for people to move more effortlessly across cities, making travel more convenient, thus sparking the Industrial Revolution.
The tendencies of trains to seemingly shorten distances still exist, but it is all contingent upon that one important adjective: fast.
Emy and Nancy’s book, Fast Trains, plunges into this concept, by compellingly sharing train narratives and the undeniable benefits of a high speed rail system throughout the United States.
America is embarking on cutting-edge technology and sustainable innovation and progressing beyond the happy memories of the choo-choo train era. Imagine the possibilities we have to look forward to in a future in high-speed rail.
As author Emy Louie stated in her interview, “That’s what this book, Fast Trains, is all about. It’s about looking forward as well as looking back.”
-Rachel Lewis, guest blogger
I just returned from having attended the US High Speed Rail Association
California Conference, in San Francisco. I got to meet lots of interesting, important people all involved in some way with Bullet Trains and high speed rail. And I was able share many of my thoughts and desires with them on these subjects.
As you might expect, all the issues and events surrounding the development of California highspeed rail were foremost on our minds. Most notably, of course, is that California must approve $2.7 B by June 30 to avoid losing $3.3 B in Federal funding.
On this subject I enjoyed some very informative presentations from numerous HSR experts as well as from those with high profiles in government and business.
With pleasure, I was able to announce the publication of the e-book version of our book “Fast Trains - America’s High Speed Future” for it became available on Amazon.com
on the second day of the conference (you can order your copy at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00847FNNK
). With California high speed rail so prevalent on everyone’s agenda, my announcement created quite a bit of buzz at the conference, and I found this very gratifying.
As it is, Fast Trains could not have been published at a more relevant time. My announcement being made at this important conference (especially since it was being held in California) was timely indeed. California is a state that is probably the most in need of HSR as an urgent solution to its many economic and transportation problems (that include gridlock and too many cars on too many highways, rising gas prices, needed highway and infrastructure improvements, as well as the need for an infusion of capital and jobs, jobs, jobs!). Hopefully, though, with the construction of California high speed rail, we will have the first leg of an connection that will ultimately join numerous communities and many big cities across our entire continent.
A bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco makes so much sense and it shall be a train that the middle class will afford to ride, per Dan Richard, the chair person of the California High-Speed Rail Atuhority’s ’s the comments. Will it be enough to the California State Assembly to approve the budget by June 30? It’s possible.
However, I wish I could get my book into the hands of the powers that be. Even if its ability to communicate and reinforce the benefits of HSR only plays a small role in seeing the bond initiative pass in the California State Legislator, it is definitely worth it. We all need to stay tuned to all that is happening in The Golden State. California high speed rail needs public support, especially in the coming months.
But please read my book. It is comprehensive and thorough as well as a joy to read. It brings to light the urgent need for high speed rail and bullet trains. It also honestly and completely covers the many challenges facing HSR’s implementation. But most of all, it compellingly highlights the benefits of HSR, which is especially important to Californians who have no real options other than the automobile and the antiquated, dilapidated highway system in the state that is slowing failing to accommodate it.
There is a narrative in our book Fast Trains that really highlights the trials and tribulations of traveling by car in California. A single mom sets out to drive from San Jose to Los Angeles and during her trip has to suffer what millions of other drivers in California routinely suffer on a daily basis driving in California. I think everyone will enjoy reading this and the other narratives in Fast Trains. However, my point here is that an unpleasant six to eight-hour trip by car from San Jose to L.A. can become a pleasant and most enjoyable (and affordable!) journey that only takes 2.5 hours by a Californian high speed rail bullet train. This is not fiction but fact, and California in the next couple months is on the cusp of making it reality. Let’s hope!
Dan Richard from the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to “close the gap” between Bakersfield and Palmdale--elevation 3,000 feet--which currently has no passenger rail service. This is called “Gap 1”. Furthermore, a high-speed rail connection from Palmdale to Victorville will close the gap, called “Gap 2,” which will ultimately connect Los Angeles to Las Vegas.