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Economist Says Only The Ignorant Want High-Speed Rail

High Speed Rail, regardless of how glamorous it appears to be, is nothing but a waste of money in the U.S., claims Robert Samuelson. If states want HSR, let them build it themselves without federal subsidy, he concludes as there is no national gain.
November 3, 2010, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Samuelson doesn't have a kind word for high speed rail, other than suggesting it might work well in Europe and Asia because of their higher population densities.

"Intercity trains-at whatever speed-target such a small part of total travel that the effects on reduced oil use, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gases must be microscopic. We are prisoners of economic geography. Suburbanization after World War II made most rail travel impractical.

Obama calls high-speed rail essential "infrastructure" when it's actually old-fashioned "pork barrel." The interesting question is why it retains its intellectual respectability. The answer, it seems, is willful ignorance.

High-speed rail would subsidize a tiny group of travelers and do little else. If states want these projects, they should pay all costs because there are no meaningful national gains."

[Robert J. Samuelson "has been writing a bi-weekly column for Newsweek since 1984. The column concentrates on the economy and socio-economic and political issues. His Newsweek column is reprinted on the op-ed page of the Washington Post"].

Thanks to Loren Spiekerman

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Published on Friday, October 29, 2010 in Newsweek
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